Preparations underway for panda delivery to Australia

19:51, October 30, 2009      

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Chinese officials say two pandas destined for an Australian zoo will be transported before the end of the year, and the two sides are actively making necessary preparations.

Zhang Shanning, an official from the State Forestry Administration, denied previous reports that the pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, had been due to begin their quarantine period in Adelaide on Oct. 17, but that this had been delayed.

"Construction of the giant panda house in Adelaide Zoo was just finished in September, and our experts who inspected it just returned from Australia on Oct. 28. There is no delay. This is just normal," said Zhang.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday, "During talks with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Sydney this morning, Vice Premier Li Keqiang promised to transport the two pandas within this year."

Wangwang and Funi are still in the Wolong-based China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in southwest China's Sichuan Province,

The administration is sending the pair to Adelaide as part of a10-year co-study as a goodwill gesture promised by President Hu Jintao during a visit to Australia in September 2007.

Wangwang and Funi had been in isolation quarantine since Sept. 21, said Zhang.

After the May 12 earthquake last year, Wangwang and Funi were taken to Ya'an Panda Breeding Base from the Wolong center, which was seriously damaged.

Training of Australian panda handlers and vets was complete and if necessary, the zoo would send more staff to China for further instruction, Zhang said.

The Adelaide Zoo had experts in bamboo cultivation, panda breeding, transportation and zoo management prepared for the pandas' arrival, he said.

The male panda, Wangwang, born on Aug. 31, 2005, weighed 119 kilograms, and the female, Funi, born on Aug. 23, 2006, weighed 90kilograms, said Zhang.

Source: Xinhua
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