Chongqing News

Chongqing panda lands in Toronto

2013-03-26 14:12:10

Photo shows that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R1) and his wife Laureen (L3) as well as Zhang Junsai, Chinese ambassador to Canada (L2) welcome a pair of pandas from China at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

TORONTO, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Deemed as "symbols of peace and friendship" by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a pair of giant pandas were treated like royalties as they touched down in the Canadian city of Toronto on Monday.

After a lengthy 18-hour trip covering nearly 12,875 km across the world, the two much-anticipated "celebrities" were greeted by Harper and his wife Laureen, Chinese ambassador to Canada Zhang Junsai and a number of dignitaries and media outlets.

Er Shun, a five-year-old female panda from Chongqing, and her four-year-old prospective mate Da Mao arrived in style, with everyone sitting at the edge of their seats to catch a quick glimpse of them.

The 'Panda Express', a FedEx Express Canada MD-11 aircraft with the pandas' faces branded on the sides, landed with the precious cargo from Chengdu, China, at around 10:45 a.m (1545 GMT).

The pair, who are on a 10-year loan to Canada, were immediately welcomed into the country with a national anthem performed by a group of high school students who travelled over 450 km from Ottawa to attend the ceremony.

The crowd cheered as Da Mao was first unloaded from the aircraft by crew members. As esteemed guests, their arrival protocol was a bit different from other two-legged dignitaries: Harper had to sign for the precious cargo to become official, a moment he says he won't forget.

"It's not everyday in your life you get to sign for pandas," he said.

It's a moment many have been waiting for since Harper officially announced the loan after his visit to China back in February 2012.

Referring to the giant pandas as "symbols of peace and friendship" between the two countries on Monday, Harper said the arrival of Er Shun and Da Mao - who will first stay at the Toronto Zoo for five years and then move to the Calgary Zoo in the province of Alberta for the remainder of the 10-year term - will help promote the friendship between the two countries.

"Canada and China are strategic partners, we enjoy an active economic relationship and strong people-to-people ties," said Harper in a speech. "Over the coming years, these pandas will help us learn more about one another while serving as a reminder of our deepening relationship, a relationship based on mutual respect and growing collaborations."

"It is truly an honor to be entrusted with their care," he added.

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Editor:Liu Kan