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'Olympic pandas' take final bow

[ 2009-03-23 13:38]     字号 [] [] []  
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A large number of well-wishers turned up yesterday morning at the Beijing Zoo to say good-bye to eight panda cubs who wrapped up their Olympic mission and returned home.

The pandas had been sent to Beijing Zoo from Sichuan province, southwest China, to bring extra cheer to visitors during the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

The adorable cubs remained playful and naughty despite it being their last day in the capital.

"I really don't want them to leave. They have brought me so many good memories, like the Olympics," said Liu Ping, 46, who also came to see the pandas when they arrived in May. "I really wish they could stay in Beijing for good."

The "Olympic pandas" were flown to Beijing on May 24 last year. They came earlier than expected, after their home, the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong, was severely damaged in the May 12 earthquake.

"I am not disappointed at all about the pandas' departure. Actually, I am really glad to see them returning to Sichuan, where their home is," said Quan Hao, 33, from Beijing.

He also hoped the cubs could leave behind the trauma caused by the quake and start a new chapter of their lives when they go back to Sichuan, like their brave human friends have.

More than 2.1 million tourists took in the cuddly treats during the cubs' nine-month stay in the capital. Beijing Zoo made its best effort to accommodate the VIPs. A 4.5-million-yuan glass-walled compound with features simulating their natural habitat helped the traumatized pandas recover from the earthquake.

"The pandas enjoyed Beijing's warm climate in the winter and absolutely loved the snow in February, which they rarely see in Wolong," said their keeper Yang Changjiang. He is worried the cubs might be 'homesick' when they go back to Sichuan as they have fully adapted to life in Beijing.

The eight "Olympic pandas" were taken off display around 11 am yesterday and loaded on to a truck surrounded by heavy security just past noon. The cubs were kept in individual cages with their favorite food - bamboo.

Wishing to take a last look at the cubs, a large crowd gathered along the road. The pandas finally started their journey home from the Beijing Zoo at 12:30 pm.

People waved farewell to the pandas and wished them the best of luck as the truck drove pass.

The pandas were driven to Beijing Capital Airport, where they boarded a flight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. They then went on a two-and-half-hour journey to Ya'an and arrived at their final destination at around 11pm.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

'Olympic pandas' take final bow

About the broadcaster:

'Olympic pandas' take final bow

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.