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An unexpected memorial in panda's hometown

(Xinhua)    15:34, April 17, 2019

(Photo/Xinhua)

CHENGDU, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Baoxing, a quiet town hidden in steep mountains and desolate canyons in southwest China, hummed as 47 French guests arrived Monday to honor the man who first discovered the giant panda.

About a century ago, Father Armand David, a French Catholic priest, zoologist and botanist, came across a black and white fur hide in Baoxing County, the city of Ya'an, Sichuan Province, which was found to belong to a species totally new to science -- the giant panda.

With respect to David and curiosity about China, a group from David's hometown, Espelette, France, came to the village 150 years later, including the descendants of David's brother.

The active promoters of the journey, the Darraidou couple, however, were not among the visitors. Andre Darraidou, also a former mayor of Espelette, died of illness Wednesday last week.

FIRST AND FOREVER GUEST

Andre Darraidou was among the very first French to visit the village.

He made four trips to China, the first in 2000 to follow in the footsteps of David and the most recent in 2017, actively planning for the 150th anniversary of the giant panda's scientific discovery.

During his trip in 2004, Darraidou worked temporarily as a chef in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, using peppers from his hometown to cook chili chicken, a traditional Sichuan dish. He donated the proceeds from the food to Baoxing for the construction of a giant panda exhibition hall.

On Monday morning, beside the giant panda exhibition hall in the county's Catholic church where David lived, two glasses of wine were set up next to Darraidou's picture, as these wines were his favorite.

His Chinese friend Gao Fuhua told others that Darraidou was a tall, friendly man who was able to speak simple Mandarin like "nihao" (hello) and "xiexie" (thanks) and was able to eat with chopsticks. He added that in Sichuan, the province famous for its spicy cuisine, the foreigner never showed any discomfort at the table but ate what the locals ate.


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(Web editor: Bianji, Liang Jun)

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