Reacting to the government's reluctance to accept China's offer of two pandas, the Taipei City Zoo and its advocates yesterday urged the government not to play "hide-and-seek" with the pandas or ignore the wishes of Taipei residents to receive them.
They said that if the government insisted on politicizing the panda offer and meddling in the issue, they will invite Taipei residents to sign a petition asking the government to listen to the people's voice.
"The Council of Agriculture promised to make a final decision by seeking professional opinions, and we expect them to keep their promise," said the Taipei City council deputy speaker Lee Hsin (李新) of the People First Party (PFP) at a press conference.
The council said that it would seek the opinion of conservationists and other experts, and would not be influenced by political considerations during their decision-making process. The final decision on whether to approve the pandas' entry will be announced by March 23.
Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) previously said that for pandas to enter the country, China would have to abide by the rules of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and allow Taiwan to sign an agreement as an "importing country" -- something he said was a practical impossibility.
Taipei Zoo President Chen Bao-chong (
"All the facilities in our panda house were specially designed for pandas. We also sent our staff to learn how to take care of pandas at zoos in Beijing, Japan and the US," he added.
The zoo filed its panda import application with the council in October, and a review panel will make a decision on whether it should be the pandas' home.
The city's Teachers Association, the city government's "panda team" and three children who won a panda-drawing contest held by the city zoo also issued their support for the city's bid to house the panda pair.