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Giant panda star stages 'return' to London zoo

By Chris Peterson | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2015-10-25 14:10

Giant panda star stages 'return' to London zoo

Wang Yihua, chairwoman of Ronshin Group (right), Paul Bailey, business manager of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (center), and Mark Waterstone, director of China Building Technique Group & Guildhouse Rosepride LLP, unveil Ming's statue at London Zoo on Oct 21. Tuo Yannan / China Daily

Chinese groups donate statue of ming, who gladdened the uk during the dark days of the blitz

A statue of Ming, a giant panda who became a symbol of hope for children in the British capital during the World War II bombing blitz, has been created and donated to London Zoo by Chinese companies and official groups.

The statue, which is 1.6 meters high, was made by artists in Sichuan province and flown to the zoo for an unveiling ceremony on Oct 21.

Ming, the first giant panda seen in the UK, divided her time between London Zoo and the Zoological Society of London's other establishment, Whipsnade Zoo, about 65 kilometers from London. The panda was in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1944.

She quickly became a star, and among the children who flocked to see her were Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, and her sister, Princess Margaret.

Guo Weimin, vice-minister of China's State Council Information Office, said, "Today, we are here to unveil the statue of Ming. This has a special meaning - she was named after a Chinese dynasty, but ming also means brightness in Mandarin.

"This statue promotes China-UK friendship and communication, and Ming will continue to bring joy and happiness to London."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson sent a message to those attending the unveiling, saying: "I am pleased to hear China Daily is staging an event (the unveiling ceremony) during the state visit (of President Xi Jinping) to encourage tourism and cultural exchanges to the capital. I look for ward to welcoming more visitors, students and businesses from China to our great city."

The statue is situated near the compound that housed Ming during her time at London Zoo.

The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, China Building Technique Group Co and Guild-house Rosepride, its UK partner, as well as the Shaanxi Tourism Group, presented a check for 10,000 pounds ($15,470) to the Zoological Society of London as a donation for its conservation work.

British Airways flew the statue free of charge from Chengdu, Sichuan province, to London.

Ralph Armond, director-general of the zoological society, said it was fitting that 71 years on, Ming will "once again be putting a smile on the faces of all who see her".

Gao Anming, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, said: "It has taken a lot of work in a short time to make this project become a reality."

The Chengdu Sculpture Association designed and created the statue, which Gao said represents the way such a fine creature can link two cultures.

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