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18 pandas return home fours years after earthquake

Xinhua)  08:39, October 31, 2012

A new giant panda base opened on Tuesday in southwestern Sichuan Province with 18 animals returning home, four years after their old habitat was destroyed by the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. It marks the return of the first batch of giant pandas to the Wolong nature reserve since that disaster, according to the reserve's administration authorities. (Heng Yi / CNS Photo)

CHENGDU, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- A new giant panda base in southwest China's Sichuan Province opened Tuesday with 18 animals returning home, four years after their old habitat was destroyed by a massive earthquake.

It marks the return of the first batch of giant pandas to the Wolong nature reserve since the magnitude-8.0 earthquake on May 12, 2008, the reserve's administration authorities said.

The disaster left more than 80,000 people dead or missing.

Thirty-two giant pandas at the Wolong base of China Panda Protection and Research Center were removed to parks nationwide. Another 30 were relocated to the Bifeng gorge base in Ya'an of Sichuan after their habitat was severely damaged by the earthquake.

The new base, funded by the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, can accommodate 59 giant pandas with a floor area of 19,845 square meters, according to authorities.

Apart from breeding, wild training and science education can be conducted at the base.

Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species. About 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, while more than 340 live in captivity.

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(Editor:黄蓓蓓、梁军)

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