World / Europe

Dutch zoo is ready for pandas' arrival

By Fu Jing in Rhenen, the Netherlands ( Updated: 2016-08-25 09:47

Sixteen years ago, when 56-year-old Dutch tycoon Marcel Boekhoorn decided to acquire the Ouwehands Zoo, about 90 km from Amsterdam, to sustain his passion for wildlife, he had two dreams to fulfill.

One was to inject investment and expand the visitor flow to the zoo, which boasts of hosting more than 3,000 animals in the picturesque town Rhenen. After an investment of about 40-million euros, the number of visitors has increased five-fold and the zoo, set up in 1932 after being converted from a chicken farm, receives almost one million visitors annually.

The second dream was to acquire two giant pandas.

"It has taken quite a long time to fulfill his second dream but we are excited that it is coming true," says Robin de Lange, director of the zone during an interview with China Daily.

What makes de Lange and his boss so excited is that China agreed last October to send two giant pandas to the zoo after Dutch King Willem Alexander met President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

"This was his second dream when Boekhoorn bought the zoo," de Lange, who joined the zoo in 2003, recalled in his office beside the entrance of the zoo. Inside various models of animals are display and facing the door are photos of two pandas and their house, which is under construction in his zoo.

Already wealthy through strategic investments in sectors ranging from telecommunication, media to football, Boekhoorn, says de Lange, was passionate about moving pandas to the Netherlands and even he persuaded former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok into writing a letter to the Chinese leadership.

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