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Thursday, April 13, 2017, 12:38

Pair of giant panda cubs from China greeted in Netherlands

By Associated Press
Pair of giant panda cubs from China greeted in Netherlands
Female giant panda Wu Wen, right, and male panda Xing Ya, left, wait in transport cages at a panda base in Wenchuan county in southwest China's Sichuan province, April 11, 2017. (Chinatopix Via AP)

AMSTERDAM — Two giant panda cubs are being prepared for a new life at a zoo in the Netherlands following a long airplane flight from China.

Male Xing Ya and female Wu Wen, 3-year-olds from Sichuan province, arrived at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Wednesday evening.

They were briefly displayed in cages at the airport before being transported to Ouwehand Zoo in Rhenen, a city of about 20,000 people in central Holland.

The zoo will quarantine the pair for several weeks before revealing them to the public. The pandas will live in a Chinese-themed enclosure with indoor and outdoor areas and even a refrigerator for their favorite food, bamboo.

Like other pandas loaned by China, the youngsters are intended to be a breeding pair and the zoo has a nursery for their future cubs.

For decades, China gifted friendly nations with its national mascot in what was known as "panda diplomacy." The country more recently has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

Most loans run from 10 to 15 years. China charges as much as US$1 million per year for a panda, a fee many zoos will pay because the pandas attract more visitors and increase the zoos' revenue, especially if new cubs are born.

Around 420 pandas live in captivity in zoos and reserves, the majority within China, while an estimated 1,864 live in the wild.

Pair of giant panda cubs from China greeted in Netherlands
People walk past a sign proclaiming the arrival of giant pandas Wu Wen and Xing Ya in Rhenen, the Netherlands, April 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Aleksandar Furtula)

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