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American-born giant pandas arrive in China to welcoming ceremony

CHENGDU, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Two American-born giant pandas arrived in China by special cargo jet Friday afternoon and enjoyed a welcoming ceremony.

The 3-year-old female Mei Lan and 4.5-year-old male Tai Shan arrived at Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, at around 4:28 p.m..

The two stars were taken out of the cargo jet and onto a special truck after the jet was disinfected.

The two pandas looked at their hometown people, who had gathered to welcome and take care of them, through the windows of the truck with curious eyes.

Experts said the physical conditions of the two were good with no discomfort discovered after the 14-hour-journey.

The pandas will be kept under observation to further guarantee their health, experts said.

The two cute "goodwill ambassadors" were taken home separately after the welcoming ceremony.

Tai Shan arrived in Ya'an Bifeng Gorge Breeding Base under China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda in Sichuan's Wolong Nature Reserve after a two-and-half hour journey. Mei Lan's new home will be in the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding.

Mei Lan has been living at Zoo Atlanta since she was born in September 2006. Her parents, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, arrived in Atlanta in November 1999.

Tai Shan, born in July 2005 and raised at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., was supposed to come to China once he reached two years of age. But the Chinese government agreed to postpone his return twice, in 2007 and 2009, at the request of the National Zoo.

Tai Shan's father Tian Tian, 13, and mother Mei Xiang, 12, are due to return to China in December next year.

According to the agreements reached by Chinese and American authorities, giant pandas are only loaned to the United States for scientific studies. Moreover, pandas like Mei Lan and Tai Shan's parents, along with their cubs, must be returned to China.

Thirteen giant pandas are in four zoos in the United States.



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