Chinese pandas leave for Japan

13:08, February 21, 2011      

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A pair of giant pandas left their home in southwest China's Sichuan Province Monday for a 10-year stay in Japan, under an agreement on joint research on the rare species.

Female panda Xian Nu and male Bi Li left Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, on board a Sichuan Airlines passenger flight at 7:50 a.m., said a spokesman with the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong.

The pandas, both aged 5 years, accompanied by two keepers from Wolong, are due to arrive at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo late Monday.

The zoo received its first pair of pandas from China in 1972. But Bi Li and Xian Nu will be the zoo's first pandas since the 2008 death of Ling Ling, 16 years after he arrived from China.

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