China scheduled its pair of giant pandas named Mao Er and Xing Er to land in Denmark in April, 4th 2019.
The pandas will transfer from the Panda Base in Chengdu, China to its new home in Copenhagen Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in Europe and 4th most visited attraction in Denmark.
The trip of the pandas will be accompanied by Carsten Damsgaard, the ambassador of Denmark to China, on a Scandinavian Airlines flight to ensure that the two Chinese travelers are safe and sound during the flight.
“I am excited to be able to travel to Denmark together with our two new Chinese guests. They will be warmly welcomed in Denmark,” the ambassador said.
An earnest preparation for new habitats
China offered to lend its two pandas to Denmark when Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark officially visited Beijing in 2014.
After that, Denmark has been working on the preparation to welcome the gifts from China for almost 2 years.
The new enclosed residence for the bamboo munchers has been designed by the renowned Danish architects, the Bjarke Ingels Group that designed the place to look like Yin-Yang symbol.
Since 2010, the zoo’s staffs including keepers, zoologists, and veterinarians have visited the panda base in Chengdu many times to get more familiarize with their new VIP guests and to learn more about them by Chinese professionals.
Jorgen Nielsen, the CEO of Copenhagen Zoo, defined the arrival of Mao Er and Xing Er as one of the biggest events in the 160-year history of Copenhagen Zoo.
“The arrival of the two pandas is going to be a great event in ZOO, and we have set the bar high in terms of animal welfare, guest experiences, architecture and aesthetics.” he said.
Moreover, Denmark even built a new plantation of bamboo on the island of Zealand in the country’s south to reach the culinary need of two inhabitants.
“To make sure the two new inhabitants at Copenhagen Zoo get their favorite food, a new farm in the southern part of Zealand will make sure that sprawling fresh bamboo is always in ample supply,” said Nielsen.
An opening day
The formal launching day will take place at the Copenhagen Zoo on April 10th, 2019 and it will also mark the official start of the Sino-Danish Giant Panda Joint Research Project.
The zoo will be set to welcome the royal guests: Queen Margrethe and Crown Princess Mary as well as the honor guests including Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s Prime Minister, Deng Ying, Chinese Ambassador to Denmark and senior officials from China National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
A black and white fluffy bear as a representative of China’s diplomacy
Long time ago diplomacy used to be only about people but as the time passed animals took more roles in representing diplomatic relationship between countries.
With the China’s panda diplomacy, it started way back in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) but became popular in the era of Mao Zedong. The highlight moment that was considered as the beginning of panda diplomacy was when China presented panda Ping Ping to Soviet Union in 1957.
Between 1957 to 1982, China constantly used pandas to be a symbol of its cultural exchange by sending total 23 pandas to north Korea, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Spain and Mexico.
In the present, China no longer gives panda as a free gift to other countries because the pandas became one of global endangered animals so, China gave the panda as a loan instead.
Some might say that Panda diplomacy represents a goodwill and friendship from China to other countries but some might see this as a symbol presenting a “seal of approval” of China, according to an Oxford University study in 2013.