Regal giant pandas greet their subjects

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-06-01 06:39


Regal giant pandas greet their subjects

People take pictures of female giant panda Wu Wen as she explores her new enclosure during an official unveiling ceremony at Ouwehands Zoo on Tuesday in Rhenen, the Netherlands. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP

RHENEN, Netherlands - The two giant pandas living at Ouwehands Zoo enchanted hundreds of admirers in their long-awaited debut on Tuesday.

Six weeks after their April 12 arrival, Wu Wen, the female, tentatively stepped outdoors after being cleared from quarantine. Nonchalant at the gaze of dozens of children, she threw herself at the first bamboo plant she saw and started to eat.

"What an appetite! Will she eat up all the bamboo planted in the enclosure in one week?" one child asked.

"Don't worry," his pal answered. "She has plenty of bamboo stocked in her room. This is just for fun."

Xing Ya, the male, strode out of his court like an emperor inspecting his territory. He patrolled the grassland, tested a shallow rig, pawed the wooden wall and tried to climb up a tree trunk, which defied his heavy body.

Abandoning the uncooperative tree, he enthroned himself on a rock to enjoy early summer sunshine. With a lofty disdain, he greeted a full circle of cameras and mobile phones marveling at him.

"Both are in perfect health and have adapted well to their new home," said Zhang Hongwen, chief economist of China's State Forestry Administration.

Wu Wen and Xing Ya, both three years old, will stay at Ouwehands for 15 years. Native to Southwest China, they belong to a conservation-reliant vulnerable species which number only 1,864.

"I am glad to see that Wu Wen and Xing Ya are so popular in the Netherlands. Living at this wonderful residence in Chinese palace style, they are really treated as emperor and empress," Zhang said.

For Martijn van Dam, Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs, "the Netherlands has already enclosed Wu Wen and Xing Ya in its heart".

Marcel Boekhoorn, owner of Ouwehands Zoo, beamed with happiness.

Following a 16-year period of consultations and preparations, the two pandas were symbolically gifted to the Netherlands during the state visit of the Dutch royal couple in October 2015.

"We learned from our Chinese friends how giant pandas live and how we can protect these endangered animals. Now is the moment to share this dream with the whole of the Netherlands," Boekhoorn told guests invited to the official opening of Pandasia, the special panda complex.

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