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Pandas could make maiden trip to Taiwan
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-29 00:03

Kuomintang leader Lien Chan might come face-to-face with some unexpected mainland visitors when he returns to Taiwan.

Anan, the giant panda sent to HongKong SAR by central government in the year of 1999, chaws bamboos on his five-year birthday march 23, 2004. [newsphoto/file]

Plans are afoot to send a pair of pandas, each five to six years old and the ideal age for breeding, to Taiwan as a gift to compatriots across the Straits and to mark Lien's historic visit.

Despite co-operations with zoos from around the world which have brought penguins and even koalas to the island, at the moment there is not a single giant panda anywhere in Taiwan.

The central government sent a pair, An An and Jia Jia, to Hong Kong in 1999.

Ministry of Forestry officials would not confirm if they have begun work on the project but said they would be ready if asked.

It would take up to six months to prepare for the trip including selecting their habitat, identifying the right bamboo for their diet and training keepers.

There have been media reports that Taiwan officials sought to "borrow" pandas some years ago but the attempt apparently came to nought. 

Anan is wandering at home in Hongkong. [newsphoto/file]

Wang Yanpeng, deputy director of Wolong Nature Reserve in Southwest's Sichuan province, the largest panda reservation in the country, said that Taiwan could provide a hospitable environment, given that the climate and vegetation in some parts of the island are similar to many areas inhabited by the animals on the mainland.

Guo Qin, a spokesman for Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Centre, said the 62 pandas there would provide a wide choice for Taiwan compatriots. Of the 23 animals so far loaned to nine countries, 11 came from the Wolong centre, he added.

It is estimated that only about 1,600 pandas survive in the wild.

(China Daily 04/29/2005 page1)

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