China's black and white stars prepare for tartan turn

21:49, January 11, 2011      

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Two of China's star pandas are preparing to be greeted with the skirl of bagpipes when they take up residence in Scotland.

Yangguang, an offspring of the 1990 Asian Games mascot, and his mate, Tiantian, a mother of twins, will stay in Edinburgh for 10 years as part of a cooperative research project, according to China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA).

Yangguang, or "Sunshine," is a son of "star panda" Panpan, the mascot for the 11th Asian Games in 1990.

The 8-year-old is "charming and handsome," with big ears, a round head, and a good shape, says his profile from the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong (Wolong Center), a state-level reserve in the southwestern Sichuan Province.

He left Wolong for Qiqihar City, Heilongjiang Province, in May, and would soon return to prepare for "overseas life," said the center's director Zhang Hemin.

Tiantian, or "Sweetie," was born in 2003 at Beijing Zoo. She moved to Sichuan in 2004 for a gene exchange program and gave birth to twins in 2009 in Wolong.

As both were in their breeding period, offspring were very likely in Edinburgh, he said.

Zhang Ling, an official with the International Cooperation Department of CWCA, said any cubs born during the pair's stay in Edinburgh would return to China at the age of 2 years.

She said the exact departure time of the pair would be determined by the construction of their residence at Edinburgh Zoo.

"Before their departure, experts need to be there to make sure the residence is appropriate," she said.

"Pandas like cold weather, and the weather in Edinburgh is suitable for them."

The CWCA signed the agreement with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Monday with Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is visiting the U.K., as a witness.

"Pandas can become goodwill ambassadors for friendship between the two countries," as Li said while meeting with First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond Sunday.

Source: Xinhua

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