Chinese pandas arrive in Belgium
Updated: 2014-02-24 05:04
By FU JING in Brussels (chinadaily.com.cn)
As Chinese panda ambassdors Hao Hao and Xing Hui started their new lives today in Belgium's Pairi Daiza Zoo for the next 15 years, Belgium Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo has pledged that their lives will be the same as they were in China.
Di Rupo made the commitment at a welcoming ceremony at Brussels International Airport on Sunday noon when the DHL cargo flight landed after a 15-hour flight.
Giant panda Xing Hui arrives at Brussels airport February 23, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
"The two pandas are special goodwill guests and we will provide an environment for them that is the same as their home in China," said Di Rupo.
Chinese ambassador to Belgium Liao Liqiang also joined the Belgian officials and children during the ceremony, saying the two pandas will be offering new windows for the West to observe fast-developing China.
"Pandas are the most powerful Chinese symbols and I think these will inspire more Europeans to learn about China,"said Liao. "These two pandas are not only for Belgium but also for the heart of Europe."
After the ceremony, the pandas were transported to the Pairi Daiza Zoo, which is about 60 kilometers away from the airport.
So far, the two pandas are adapting well in their new home, which features Chinese gardens and traditional architecture.
"I promise their life here will be no different from what they have had in China,"said Eric Domb, president of the zoo, beside the panda garden during an interview with China Daily.
Belgians seems excited about the pandas' arrival.
Edouard Goldschneider , a 14-year-old Belgian student who is learning Chinese, said he has been following the departure and arrival of the pandas and hoped to visit them soon.
"I understand that their stay in Belgium symbolizes the importance of the Chinese-Belgium relationship — friendship,"said Goldschneider.
Alexander De Croo, deputy prime minister, expressed his excitement over the arrival of Hao Hao and Xing Hui. "And what's more, I'm very glad the Chinese government has chosen the names for them, or else there would have been a hassle between Flanders and Wallonia over who would pick their names," he said days ago at a reception on China's Spring Festival.
Paula Roth, a German who settled in Brussels, said pandas used to be the favorite animal of their son Eric, who is 34 years old now. "Oh, they are so cute, so cute!" Roth quoted Eric as saying after he saw pandas in China as a child.
"Maybe the panda will become the new favorite of our grandson," said Roth.
Li Xiaofei contributed to the story in Brussels.