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Three pandas to leave Belgian animal park for China

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-21 04:32

This file photo taken in August shows giant panda twins Bao Di and Bao Mei enjoy their birthday cakes in their new yard in Pairi Daiza zoo in Brugelette, Belgium. [Photo by DE YONGJIAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

BRUSSELS -- A Belgian animal park on Tuesday announced that three of its five pandas will leave for China this year.

Tian Bao, born in 2016, and twins Bao Di and Bao Mei, born in 2019, will leave Pairi Daiza Park in Hainault in the autumn of 2024.

"Our three 'baby' pandas, cherished by all since their arrival, will have to leave Pairi Daiza in 2024," the park said in a statement. "However, we have been incredibly fortunate to have them with us for over 4 years (for Bao Di and Bao Mei) and almost 8 years (for Tian Bao)."

The sending of the pandas to China is part of an initial agreement between Pairi Daiza and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA). When the parents of the three pandas, Hao Hao and Xing Hui, arrived in Belgium in 2014, a 15-year loan had been agreed.

This agreement also stipulated that all descendants of the panda couple born in Belgium would go to China at the age of four, to participate in breeding and conservation programs for the species.

However, the process of Tian Bao's return to China has been delayed by the restrictive measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

The departure of the three pandas marks a significant milestone in the collaboration between Pairi Daiza and China to protect the giant panda. "The departure of the three 'little' pandas is a further step in our commitment to the conservation of this emblematic species," the park said.

Pairi Daiza is encouraging visitors to come and enjoy the last few months of Tian Bao, Bao Di, and Bao Mei's presence. The park will organize special events to celebrate the three pandas' birthdays and say goodbye.

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