HELSINKI – Two giant pandas set to become a Finnish zoo’s newest residents touched down in snow-dusted Helsinki on Thursday.
Three-year-old female panda Jin Baobao – who will be known by the Finnish name Lumi – and four-year-old male Hua Bao – who will be known as Pyry – arrived at Helsinki Airport after a long journey from a giant panda base in China’s southwestern Sichuan province.
The animals, which have been loaned to the northern European country’s Ähtäri Zoo for a 15-year period, were given a healthy selection of bamboo, carrot, apple and “panda cakes” for the trip to satisfy their big appetites.
A keeper and a vet accompanied the creatures on the flight, according to China’s news agency Xinhua.
Ähtäri Zoo director Jukka Salo was quoted by the agency as saying the snowy winter landscape of Finland was similar to the pandas’ natural habitat in China.
The pair were transported in cages upon their arrival at the airport on Thursday morning.
China has been making use of so-called “panda diplomacy” for many years, whereby it loans the animals to foreign countries for a certain period of time as diplomatic gifts.