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Pair of giant panda cubs from China greeted in Netherlands

Associated Press logo Associated Press 13/04/2017
One of two giant pandas, female Wu Wen and male Xing Ya, is placed on display after arriving at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands after a special flight from China Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The pair of three-and-half year old giant pandas are being taken from Schiphol Airport to the Ouwehands Zoo in the central Dutch town of Rhenen where they will settle into a purpose-built enclosure for a 15-year stay as part of a nature conservation project. (AP Photo/Patrick Post) © The Associated Press One of two giant pandas, female Wu Wen and male Xing Ya, is placed on display after arriving at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands after a special flight from China Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The pair of three-and-half year old giant pandas are being taken from Schiphol Airport to the Ouwehands Zoo in the central Dutch town of Rhenen where they will settle into a purpose-built enclosure for a 15-year stay as part of a nature conservation project. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

AMSTERDAM — Two giant panda cubs are being prepared for a new life at a zoo in the Netherlands following a long airplane flight from China.

Male Xing Ya and female Wu Wen, 3-year-olds from Sichuan province, arrived at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Wednesday evening.

They were briefly displayed in cages at the airport before being transported to Ouwehand Zoo in Rhenen, a city of about 20,000 people in central Holland.

The zoo will quarantine the pair for several weeks before revealing them to the public. The pandas will live in a Chinese-themed enclosure with indoor and outdoor areas and even a refrigerator for their favorite food, bamboo.

Like other pandas loaned by China, the youngsters are intended to be a breeding pair and the zoo has a nursery for their future cubs.

For decades, China gifted friendly nations with its national mascot in what was known as "panda diplomacy." The country more recently has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

Most loans run from 10 to 15 years. China charges as much as $1 million per year for a panda, a fee many zoos will pay because the pandas attract more visitors and increase the zoos' revenue, especially if new cubs are born.

Around 420 pandas live in captivity in zoos and reserves, the majority within China, while an estimated 1,864 live in the wild.

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