- Title: THAILAND: Pair of Chinese giant pandas arrive destined for Chiang Mai zoo
- Date: 12th October 2003
- Summary: (L!3) CHIANG MAI, THAILAND (OCTOBER 12, 2003) (REUTERS) WIDE OF THAIS IN COSTUMES DANCING "DRAGON/ LION DANCE" AT CHIANG MAI AIRPORT SLV GROUP OF THAIS PLAYING TRADITIONAL MUSIC SLV PEOPLE DRESSED IN GIANT PANDA AND CAT COSTUMES SLV CHILDREN WAVING THAI AND CHINESE FLAGS CLOSE OF LARGE DRAGON DANCING
- Embargoed: 27th October 2003 12:00
- Location: CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVAAPAEM191LZEI4LTCKIAH5X6Q5
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: A northern Thai zoo welcomes a pair of rare giant pandas in Chiang Mai.
Four-year-old Xuang Xuang (pronounced: Shoo-ang Shoo-ang) and three-year-old Lin Hui (Lin Hoo-aye) have got some adjusting to do. For the next ten years the two huge panda bears, used to their home in mid-west China, will be living in tropical Thailand.
Hundreds of excited locals gathered at the airport in the northern city of Chiang Mai to catch their first glimpse of the black and white bears -- the first ever to live on Thai soil.
Renamed Kham Ai (pronounced: Kam Eye, meaning first born son) and Kham Eouy (pronounced: Kam Er-ay, meaning first-born daughter), the pandas were a goodwill loan from the Chinese government -- they were welcomed by local Thai media as "animal ambassadors".
The Thais who crowded to cheer the pandas' arrival were disappointed, catching only a glimpse of the pandas before they were whisked away for a 45-day quarantine and adjustment period.
Despite being told that the panda's would not be on public view until November, many swarmed to the zoo and set up vigil outside the bears' enclosure, in the hopes of a peek at the furry animals that are indigenous only to China.
"Normally if we wanted to see pandas we would have to go to China. Now we have two pandas in Thailand, so we should take good care of what we have been given," said local student Da Watana, who dressed in a Chinese-style dress for the occasion.
The Thai government has spent 40 million baht ($1.02 million) building a brand new enclosure for the bears, including state-of-the-art air-conditioning to help them adjust to Thailand's steamy weather.
Also included is a forest-like panda playground and a generous supply of their favourite snack -- bamboo. Their keepers, who spent two months in China being trained on how to care for them, will be trying them on the Thai variety.
"We have discovered several species of bamboo that we believe the panda would be able to eat and we can also ship the bamboo from China if necessary," said General Lertrat Ratanavanich, Chairman of the Thai Zoological Park Organisation.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that there are only around 600 giant pandas still living in the wild in China.
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