Two Chinese giant pandas, Mao Er and Xing Er, will finally be on their way from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Southwest China's Sichuan province to their new home at the Copenhagen Zoo in early April, according to Jorgen Nielsen, CEO of the Zoological Gardens in Copenhagen.
Preparations for the arrival of the two new VIP residents have been under way for years. The cooperation was officially agreed upon when the queen of Denmark paid a state visit to China in 2014.
According to a statement from the embassy of Denmark to China, the two pandas can expect an exceptional welcome in Copenhagen. They will travel to Copenhagen on a Scandinavian Airlines flight and now the airline is finalizing the last details of the transport to ensure a safe and smooth journey for the two Chinese travelers.
A. Carsten Damsgaard, the ambassador of Denmark to China, will be escorting the pandas on the airplane from Beijing to Copenhagen.
"I am excited to be able to travel to Denmark together with our two new Chinese guests. They will be warmly welcomed in Denmark," the ambassador said.
After the arrival and the official welcome at Copenhagen airport, the two pandas will have time to recover from the journey and familiarize themselves with their new home and surroundings at Copenhagen Zoo.
The official opening of new Panda House at the Copenhagen Zoo will take place in the presence of the queen of Denmark. From the Chinese side, Chinese Ambassador to Denmark Deng Ying, as well as senior officials from China National Forestry and Grassland Administration, will take part.
The opening also will mark the formal start of the Sino-Danish Giant Panda Joint Research Project.
Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels Group, the new panda house at the Copenhagen Zoo is inspired by the Chinese yin and yang symbol. The design allows the male and female panda to live apart most of the year, yet in close proximity and with easy access to a common area when the female is in heat once a year.
The zoo's CEO Nielsen, who has been looking forward to the arrival of the pandas for months, called the impending arrival one of the biggest events in the 160-year history of Copenhagen Zoo.
To prepare, zoo keepers, zoologists and veterinarians have been on several educational trips to the panda base in Chengdu and have had close dialogues with Chinese professionals since 2010, Nielsen said.
"To make sure the two new inhabitants at Copenhagen Zoo get their favorite food, a new farm in the southern part of Zealand will make sure that sprawling fresh bamboo is always in ample supply," he added, referring to the island that is home to the Danish capital.