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Giant pandas get a celebrity welcome in Belgium

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 01:24

Feb. 24 - Two giant pandas, Xing Hui and Hao Hao, arrive in Brussels on a 15-year loan. Elly Park reports.

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A very special delivery arrives in Belgium from China. Two giant pandas, Xing Hui and Hao Hao are here on a 15-year loan. And the cuddly pair received a superstar welcome from the Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. SOUNDBITE: Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo saying (French) "To lend pandas is an act of high diplomatic value, as well as cultural and political. They agreed to lend them for 15 years, so it's a great Chinese gesture of trust in our country." But panda loans are more than just a cementing of diplomatic ties - they are also big business. A zoo in France recorded almost 50 percent more visitors after its panda pair arrived two years ago. The four-year-old pair, female Hao Hao, meaning 'Nice', and male Xing Hui, meaning 'Sparkling Star' are being transported to a wildlife park about 50 kilometers, or 30 miles southwest of Brussels. The park says it has spent over $10 million U.S. dollars to create a 'Chinese Garden' home for its guests, and estimates the annual upkeep of the bears at 50,000 dollars each -- five times that of their next most expensive animal, the elephant.

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Giant pandas get a celebrity welcome in Belgium

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 01:24