Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Panda Hall ready on Monday: zoo

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

A pair of pandas that arrived from China have completed their one-month quarantine period and will be ready to meet the public at the Panda Hall on Monday, the Taipei Zoo said yesterday.

The zoo will hold an opening ceremony for the Panda Hall and a welcome party for the two animals, Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓), at 6:30pm today, with 100 students from low-income families invited to get a first glimpse of the pandas.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) are expected to attend the ceremony.

Taipei Zoo spokesman Chin Shi-chien (金仕謙) said the Council of Agriculture had issued official documents on Thursday showing that the pandas had passed a health check and diet evaluation. The zoo gave the pair their vaccine shots yesterday ahead of the hall's public opening on Monday.

The pandas, a gift from Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to Lien in 2005, arrived in the country on Dec. 23 and were sent to Taipei Zoo directly for the quarantine period.

The zoo has installed eight counters at the entrance to issue number slips to visitors who wish to view the pandas. After obtaining a number, visitors can return at the time designated on the slip. Time spent inside the hall will be limited to 10 minutes.

Chin said the zoo would limit the number of visitors to the Panda Hall to 22,000 every day. With the expected onslaught of visitors, the zoo said it expected all the slips to be gone ithin two hours of the zoo opening during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Operating hours at the zoo from Monday to Sunday will be from 8:30am until 5:30pm. Normal operating hours (9am to 5pm) will resume on Feb. 2.

Chin said visitors can call 02-2720-8889 ext. 8800 for information on the number slips.

Free bus services between Taipei City Hall and the zoo will be offered between 7am and 6pm from Monday through Sunday, the Department of Transportation said.

The department said it would enforce flexible traffic control measures around the zoo during the holidays.

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