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Belgium’s political pandas to arrive 23 February
Belgium’s two anticipated Chinese pandas are slated to arrive this Sunday, 23 February. Hao Hao and Xing Hui will make their debut at the Wallonia animal park Pairi Daiza after making the long trip with courier DHL. The pandas are expected to have a traditional going away ceremony before they leave China’s Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas. Not to be outdone, Belgium is set to welcome the rare animals with a ceremony of its own at Brussels Airport.
When the decision to house the pandas at Pairi Daiza in Wallonia instead of Antwerp Zoo was made, it quickly became a political topic between Belgium’s two linguistic regions. However, authorities maintain they chose Pairi Daiza for its size and accommodations made to the park in order to make the pandas' stay more comfortable.
As well as attracting many visitors to see the animals, a major focus will be on helping the male and female pandas reproduce. With only 1,600 pandas left in the wild, and reproduction difficult compared to most animals, helping steer the pandas away from extinction is paramount.