The Taipei High Administrative Court yesterday rejected the Taipei City Zoo's application to import two giant pandas from China.
China offered to donate the pandas to Taiwan in 2005, shortly after a visit to China by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (
The zoo filed an application to the Council of Agriculture shortly after Beijing first announced that it wanted to send the pandas to Taiwan, but the council rejected the application the following year, saying that the zoo did not offer adequate facilities to care for the endangered species.
The zoo appealed to the Cabinet, but was again turned down, after which it filed a second appeal with the Taipei High Administrative Court last year.
The court ruled that the zoo's preparations were incomplete and rejected its appeal.
The zoo had argued that the Council of Agriculture's rejection had been unfair because the zoo began training zookeepers and constructing enhanced facilities in 2005.
Zoo officials said the council should have evaluated the application in terms of whether the zoo was making the necessary preparations rather than whether the preparations were complete.
The judges said in their verdict that the Council of Agriculture's evaluation and decisions were correct.
"We respect the verdict, but we will not give up," zoo director Chen Pao-chung (
"We plan to refile the application," he said.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (
Unlike when the zoo filed its first application, Hau said it was now fully prepared to care for the pandas.
Inspecting the three-story panda exhibition hall at the zoo yesterday, Hau said that the facility would be completed in June, and that zookeepers were undergoing training in the meantime.
The hall includes a panda nursery on the first floor, two indoor rooms and one outdoor activity room.
"Taipei City is ambitious about getting the pandas, and we hope the two pandas will have children at the zoo," he said.
The zoo has spent NT$300 million (US$9.9 million)on building the hall and has sent 17 zookeepers to the panda-breeding base in Sichuan, China, the San Diego Zoo in the US and Ueno Zoo in Tokyo to learn how to raise and breed giant pandas.
The zoo has planted 6 hectares of bamboo to feed the animals.
Besides Taipei, Hsinchu County, Taichung City and Hualien County are vying to provide a new home for pandas.
Giant pandas are among the rarest animals in the world. There are about 1,600 giant pandas in the world, most of which live in the wild in China's Sichuan Province.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DPA
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