Chinese giant pandas make public debut in new South Korean home

Le Bao, a three-year-old male panda, at South Korea's Everland Amusement and Animal Park in Yongin, south of Seoul on April 7, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Ai Bao, a two-year-old female panda, eats bamboo during a photo opportunity at an amusement park in Yongin, South Korea on April 7, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

YONGIN (REUTERS) - Munching on bamboo, rolling about and occasionally napping, on-loan Chinese giant pandas Ai Bao and Le Bao made their public debut at a theme park in South Korea on Thursday (April 21).

The pair from China's Sichuan province will live at Everland, an amusement park in Yongin, south of Seoul with its own zoo, on a 15-year loan as agreed by the two countries during a 2014 summit.

Two-year-old female Ai Bao and three-year-old male Le Bao had been under quarantine before making their highly anticipated appearance, which drew visitors of all ages including children dressed in panda costumes and carrying panda soft toys.

"Ai Bao... likes to spend time eating or resting in a tree rather than playing," Everland panda keeper Kang Cher Won said.

"Le Bao is mischievous so he likes to roll around, swim and climb trees. He is very active and will be popular among visitors."

China has sent pandas abroad since the 1950s as part of a goodwill tradition, or "panda diplomacy", to foster better relations.

The pandas are the first to arrive in South Korea from China since 1994.

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