Chinese pandas to live in France
Updated: 2012-01-15 17:33
A chartered plane carrying two giant pandas prepares to take off at an airport in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Jan 15, 2012. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]
The pair will stay in a French zoo for 10 years under a conservation and research agreement between China and France, according to the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Center, home to the pair and over 100 other pandas in Sichuan Province.
The couple - Yuan Zai and Huan Huan - were both born in 2008 and weigh 81 and 79 kg, respectively, said Hou Rong, a panda expert from the center.
The pandas, accompanied by two of the center's staffers, took off at 8 a.m. from Chengdu and is due to arrive at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris after an 11-hour journey.
The two will stay at the Beauval Zoo in central France to allow zoo employees to study panda breeding and training, Hou said.
The pandas' enclosure features Chinese and French design elements, having been partly constructed using materials flown from China, Hou said.
Zoo visitors will be allowed to see the pandas around February 11, when the pair are expected to finish their initial quarantine period.
Giant pandas are indigenous to China and are among the world's most endangered species. About 300 of the animals have been bred in captivity and 1,596 others live in the wild, mostly in Sichuan.