February 15, 2009

Pandas get to play outside in Taiwan zoo

A pair of pandas sent from China to a zoo in Taiwan enjoyed their first outside trip Saturday on Valentine's Day.

Some couples came to the zoo with bouquets of red roses to mark the occasion, Xinhua, the Chinese government news agency reported. Visitors said the pandas appeared to be enjoying their outdoor enclosure, which features hilly areas, a waterfall and grass and trees to simulate the pandas' native environment.

Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan arrived in Taipei in late December and went on public exhibit indoors on the Chinese New Year, Jan. 26. The zoo says 330,000 people have already viewed the pair.

The gift of the pandas was delayed by a diplomatic dispute between China and Taiwan. The Chinese government insisted that rules for international shipment of animals did not apply since Taiwan is part of China, while Taiwanese officials said it was an international transfer.