Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Indonesia welcomes pair of giant pandas from China

Giant pandas Cai Tao and Hu Chun have arrived to great fanfare in Indonesia, where a new palace-like home which cost millions of pounds has been built for them.

The male and female pair landed at Jakarta's international airport from Chengdu and will be quarantined at Taman Safari zoo outside the capital, Jakarta, for about a month before the public can visit.

The zoo hopes the seven-year-olds will mate and add to the giant panda population.

It has built a special enclosure and facilities that cost about 60 billion rupiah (£3.3 million), Taman Safari president Tony Sumampouw told the Associated Press.

There are fewer than 1,900 giant pandas in their only wild habitats in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu.

For decades, China presented friendly nations with gifts of its national mascot in what was known as "panda diplomacy".

Countries now pay to be loaned pandas but they remain a potent symbol of Chinese soft power at a time when Beijing is seeking Southeast Asian co-operation for its ambitious plans to create a modern-day Silk Road which enhances its economic and political clout.

Zoo spokesman Yulius Suprihardo said the living quarters for Cai Tao, the male, and Hu Chun, the female, resemble a three-tier temple.

It is on a hill surrounded by about 1.2 acres (5,000 square metres) of land and equipped with a lift, sleeping area, medical facilities and indoor and outdoor play areas.

Mr Suprihardo said after the quarantine period a "soft launch" for public viewing could be held by late October or early November.

"During this time we can only see the adorable pandas from images, videos or television. In the near future, Indonesian people can see panda directly," he said. "And we hope they can breed here - that's part of our goal."


Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph