Panda stars get first taste of life in The Netherlands

2017-05-31 08:55
Young pandas playing in a reserve in China. (File, AP)

Young pandas playing in a reserve in China. (File, AP)

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Rhenen - Cautiously at first and then with mounting curiosity, two giant pandas stepped outside into their new open-air enclosure at a Dutch zoo on Tuesday, met by a barrage of cameras and squeals of delight.

Female Wu Wen (Beautiful Powerful Cloud) and her male companion Xing Ya (Elegant Star) were making their public debut, marking the culmination of a 16-year dream for the zoo and Dutch officials.

The pair are now going on show at Ouwehands Dierenpark zoo in central Rhenen, housed in an imposing, pagoda-style enclosure specially built at a cost of €7m.

They arrived in The Netherlands on April 13, after an 8 000km journey from China and after years of negotiations in what has been dubbed "panda diplomacy".

Increased awareness

But despite mounting panda-mania in the Netherlands, the two pandas were first given a few weeks of quarantine and a chance to acclimatise before going on show.

In the wild, pandas are solitary creatures and the pair are being housed separately and will be brought together when the female is on heat.

They will stay in the zoo for about 15 years and the hope is that they will breed and help replenish global panda numbers.

While pandas remain endangered, conservation work and an increased awareness of their plight has led to a rise in numbers.

Some 1 ,864 pandas remain in the wild in China, an increase from around 1 000 in the late 1970s, according to the environmental group WWF.

Read more on:    wwf  |  the netherlands  |  animals

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