A pair of giant pandas received a snowy but warm welcome in Finland on Thursday.
The four-and-a-half-year-old male panda, Hua Bao, and three-and-a-half-year-old female panda, Jin Baobao, were a gift from China for the centenary of the independence of Finland. The vulnerable animals arrived in the country for a 15-year research project agreed upon by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Helsinki in April, 2017.
The male panda was renamed Pyry (Eng. ‘snow squall’) and the female panda Lumi (Eng. ‘snow’) upon their arrival in Finland.
The pandas continued the journey to their final destination, the Ähtäri Zoo in Central Finland, immediately after an arrival ceremony at Helsinki Airport. Two veterinarians and zookeepers accompanied the pandas on their 6,500-kilometre flight from Chengdu, China, to Helsinki, Finland, according to a press release from Ähtäri Zoo.
Zookeeper Anna Palmroth tells that the flight went smoothly.
“The flight went smoothly because pandas are calm in the presence of familiar people. The pandas were naturally also given something to eat and drink during the journey. We had packed them a lunch of their favourite treats, meaning bamboo stems, carrots, apples and panda cakes,” she tells.
The Ähtäri Zoo has over the past three spent over eight million euros on building a 6,000-square-metre house for the panda couple. The public will have the first opportunity to admire the giant pandas on Saturday, 17 February.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva