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'Panda-monium' as giant pandas arrive in Canada from China

Published on Mar 26, 2013 6:03 AM

TORONTO (REUTERS) - Canada got a taste of international panda diplomacy on Monday with the arrival of two "Very Important Pandas (VIP)" at the start of a 10-year loan to two Canadian zoos.

Speaking as the two giant pandas arrived in Toronto from China, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Junsai - who gave the animals the VIP designation - noted that when he started his posting in Canada two years ago, he was greeted only by the Canadian director of protocol.

But the panda pair, Er Shun, 5, and Da Mao, 4, merited a personal welcome from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who reached an agreement on the panda loan during a visit to China last year.

"I am very delighted to officially welcome to Canada... a pair of China's national treasures," Mr Harper said at the airport.

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