TAIPEI: Visitors to a pair of giant pandas from the Chinese mainland at the Taipei Zoo topped 3 million by Wednesday, also the one-year anniversary since the pandas arrived in the island.
A four-year-old girl named Siu Liang-ting from Taoyuan County became the 3 millionth visitor when she arrived at the Panda House at about 2 p.m.. She got a panda doll as a gift from the zoo.
The pandas, named "Tuan Tuan" and "Yuan Yuan" (when linked, their names mean "reunion" in Chinese) arrived at the zoo on December 23 last year. They made their public debut on January 26 after a month of quarantine.
Since then, the pandas have been popular on the island as visitors exceeded 1 million in April and 2 million in August.
The mainland announced in May 2005 that it would give two giant pandas to Taiwan as a gesture of goodwill. Their departure was delayed for more than three years for political reasons. Improved cross-Straits ties made their journey to Taiwan possible.
Giant pandas are among the world's most endangered animals. There are about 1,590 pandas living in China's wild, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Through 2007, there were 239 captive-bred giant pandas in the country.