Debt crisis unexpectedly delays panda vacation to Paris

PARIS -- Financial crisis in the Euro zone preoccupies world leaders leaving two Paris-bound Chinese pandas in limbo
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris)

PARIS – The Greek financial crisis has prevented two Chinese pandas from arriving in France this month.  The Paris Beauval zoo outside of Paris has created facilities ready to welcome the animals for am ambitious breeding program.  Unfortunately, G20 focus on Greece and Euro zone woes have prevented finalization of the pandas’ trip to Paris.

Relations between France and China have been relatively stable since the creation of current day China in 1964.  France was the first major western nation to send an ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.  With last year’s nuclear partnership and this year’s G20 meeting in Cannes, the two countries have forged a union between Asia and Europe.  The pandas, according to the Beauval zoo, are a very real representation of this bond.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and China’s leader Hu Jintao launched the idea themselves, hoping to advance reproduction effords and research of the dwindling panda population.  Fewer than 300 pandas live in captivity, with less than 2000 estimated alive in the wild. The couple destined for France comes from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China that opened in 1987.

Ye Cao, a Chinese student at the Sorbonne, has been following the panda project.  “The panda is precious, a symbol of friendship.  In my experiences, China doesn’t give them to just any country,” she said.

With China hesitant to invest further in Europe during this financial crisis, Cao sees the pandas as an olive branch of sorts.  “It’s a way to drag their feet a little, but also to show goodwill,” she said.

Cao said she will join the crowds at the zoo when, if, the pandas arrive in Paris.  The zoo has created a brand new China exhibit, featuring red pandas, snow leopards, and eventually the new panda couple.  The exhibit is decked out with dragon decorations and a 5 meter pagoda that will welcome the animals as soon as France and China finalize the agreement.

Photo: Affluent Magazine

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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