China's giant pandas arrive at Belgian zoo
Updated: 2014-02-24 01:03
A transparent box carrying giant panda Hao Hao is loaded into a truck after arriving by plane at Brussels airport February 23, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
BRUGELETTE, Belgium - A pair of giant pandas from Southwest China's Sichuan province arrived at their new home in Belgium's Pairi Daiza zoo, some 60 km southwest of downtown Brussels, at around 15:00 local time (1400GMT) on Sunday.
About 2,500 people, many of them excited children waving national flags of China and Belgium as well as panda-decorated flags or wearing costume of Panda greeted the pandas along the road to the zoo.
Visitors today can only observe the pandas through a closed-circuit television system in the reception.
Officials said they want the pandas fully adapted to their new home before making public debut in April.
The pandas, Xing Hui, the male and Hao Hao, the female, are both 4 years old and are on lease from a breeding center in Southwest China's Sichuan province.
The lease term is 15 years, according to officials with the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, the world's largest research base for the species.
"It's a good thing for Belgium,"Nicole Duflot, a grandmother coming to the zoo with her husband and her grandson told Xinhua, "though today we can't see the Panda but it's a great thing for us to come here."
The Pandas will be living in a panda hall of 5,300 square meters within the zoo.
"I hope Xing Hui and Hao Hao will enhance friendship between Belgium and China." Liao Liqiang, the Chinese ambassador to Belgium, said during an interview with Xinhua.