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|Friday, December 08, 2000, updated at 19:55(GMT+8)|
Two Chinese Giant Panda Cubs Arrive in US
Tian Tian, a three-and-a-half year old male whose name means "more and more," weighs 80 kilograms and Mei Xiang, a two-and-a- half year old female whose name means "beautiful fragrance," weighs 50 kilograms. The duo are in excellent health.
The US FedEx sent a MD-11 jet "Panda One" to Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province, to carry the pandas.
Upon their arrival at the airport, the two pandas were delivered by a caravan of FedEx vehicles to the Washington National Zoo.
The zoo has spent US$8 millionrs preparing the panda house and a 10-person team will be responsible for the pandas' daily lives.
The two will join five others of their species in the United States, three at the San Diego Zoo and two at the Atlanta Zoo.
The pandas, both born at the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve, are on loan to the Washington National Zoo for scientific research purposes in accordance with an agreement reached between the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the U.S. zoo.
In 1972, China sent two pandas to the Washington National Zoo, a gift from the Chinese government following President Nixon's visit to China that year. Ling-Ling died of heart failure in 1992 at the age of 23, while Hsing-Hsing died of kidney disease last year, aged 28.
Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing produced five offspring, but none lived longer than four days.
There are only about 1,000 pandas in the world now, most of them living in the mountains of the Sichuan Basin. The Wolong Reserve is a major habitat of the endangered species.
Waving Good-bye to HomelandThree-and-a-half year old Tian Tian and two-and-a-half year old Mei Xiang, both born at the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve, are on loan to the Washington-based National Zoological Park for the 10 year period, according to an agreement reached between the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) and the US zoo.
The pandas were placed in specially fitted containers for the 17-hour journey and supplied with fresh food like bamboo and apples. A Chinese panda expert and a keeper from the Wolong reserve also went with the pandas and will stay in the United States for one month to help the pandas adapt to their new habitat.
The Washington zoo has spent US$8 million preparing the pandas' "house" and a 10-person team will be responsible for the pandas' daily lives.
The National Zoological Park will pay US$1 million to China every year, to contribute to conservation projects for giant pandas in China, said Li Yuming, deputy general secretary of CWCA.
The previous pandas to habitat the Washington zoo, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, were given to the US by China 30 years ago.
Ling Ling died in 1992, aged 23, while Hsing Hsing died last year, aged 28.
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