After Taipei Zoo received two giant pandas from China on Tuesday, another zoo said yesterday that it is seeking a pair.
Leofoo Village Theme Park in Hsinchu, which applied to house the two Chinese pandas but lost out to Taipei Zoo, said it hoped that China would give Taiwan another pair of the animals.
“We have built the panda enclosure and three keepers have received training in China. We have made all the preparations,” Yuan Hsiang-chieh (袁相杰), director of the theme park, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur by phone.
Local press reports said China had hinted it could give Taiwan more pandas. Yuan said the Leofoo park will make inquiries after the Lunar New Year.
“The new year is coming up and then there are the Lunar New Year holidays, so it is not the right time to ask about that [the pandas] but we will make inquiries after the Lunar New Year,” he said.
This year’s Lunar New Year falls on Jan. 26.
After Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) offered two pandas to Taiwan in 2005, Taipei Zoo and the Leofoo park applied to house them.
The Council of Agriculture rejected the application from the theme park, saying its medical facilities for pandas and tourist education programs were not as good as those of the Taipei Zoo.
In related news, the first cross-strait charter flight leaving from China’s Chengdu arrived at Taipei’s Songshan Airport yesterday.
Chengdu is one of the Chinese airports opened to Taiwan flights after the second meeting between Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in October.
The Sichuan Airlines flight landed at 4:15pm. The airport hosted a water-spraying ceremony for the flight, which carried 87 passengers.
The flight attendants served passengers wearing traditional costumes. Two of the flight attendants also wore panda suits.
The pandas in Taipei Zoo came from the panda-breeding center in Sichuan Province.
To thank the people of Taiwan for their support after the Sichuan earthquake in May, Sichuan Airlines also painted “People in Sichuan thank our fellow citizens in Taiwan” (四川人民感謝台灣同胞) in Chinese on the aircraft.