World / Ming the Giant Panda

Chinese group donates statue of Ming the Giant Panda to ZSL London Zoo

By Chris Peterson (China Daily Europe) Updated: 2015-10-21 22:11

Chinese companies and official groups joined together to create and donate to ZSL London Zoo a statue of Ming, a giant panda who lived in the UK from 1938 to 1944 and became a symbol of hope for the children of London during the World War II bombing blitz.

The statue, standing 1,6 metres high, was made by a group of artists in Sichuan and shipped to ZSL London Zoo to be installed for today's ceremony.

Ming, the first giant panda ever seen in the UK, divided her time between London Zoo and ZSL's other establishment, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo about 40 miles from London. She quickly became a celebrity and amongst the children who flocked to see her were Princess Elizabeth, now the UK's monarch, and her sister Princess Margaret.

Chinese group donates statue of Ming the Giant Panda to ZSL London Zoo

China's State Council Information Office Deputy Minister Guo Weimin (L), Association of Leading Visitor Attractions Business Manager Paul Bailey, and David Hudson, chief executive of Guildhouse UK are unveiling Panda Ming's statue in ZSL London Zoo on Oct 21, 2015.[Tuo Yannan/China Daily]

"Today we are here to unveil the statue of Ming. This has a special meaning – Ming was named after a Chinese dynasty but also means Brightness in Mandarin" said Guo Weimin, Deputy Director of China's State Council Information Office.

"This is to promote China-UK friendship and communication. Ming will continue to bring joy and happiness to London," he added.

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

In addition to the statue, which is sited permanently close to the compound where Ming lived during her time at the zoo, the Giant Panda Research Base, China Building Technique Group Company and its UK partner, Guildhouse, as well as the Shaanxi Tourism Group, presented a cheque for 10,000 pounds to the ZSL as a donation towards its conservation work.

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

Gao Anming, Deputy Editor in Chief of China Daily, paid tribute to everyone involved in the statue project.

"It has taken a lot of work in a short space of time to make this project become a reality.

"We should pay tribute to the team at Chengdu Sculpture Association, who designed and created this fine statue, which represents the way such a fine creature can link two cultures."

Ralph Armond, Director-General of the Zoological Society of London, said it was fitting that 71 years on, Ming will "once again be putting a smile on the faces of all who see her.

"We proudly acknowledge ZSL's long-standing relationship with China, which we can date back to 1836," he added.

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