These Panda Diplomats Are Starting A New Life Halfway Around The World

Panda-monium is about to ensue in the Netherlands. Two pandas arrived Wednesday from China to stay at the Ouwehands Dierenpark zoo in the town of Rhenen, located in the province of Utrecht. 

The zoo has been requesting a pair of pandas from China for 16 years, and finally got permission to host the animals, Xing Ya and Wu Wen, from the Chinese government, according to Ouwehands Dierenpark’s website. China’s program of sending pandas to other nations is often called “panda diplomacy,” which we guess makes this pair panda diplomats.

This particular agreement was reached in October 2015, but the zoo wasn’t given an official green light until March after an inspection of the facilities. 

The pandas’ first night in their new home went well, according to a news release from the zoo. They’ll have to stay in quarantine for a few weeks, but will soon be living in the laps of luxury. 

One of the two pandas in quarantine in the Netherlands.

Xing Ya and Wu Wen are two incredibly lucky animals who will be enjoying their Dutch stay in a £7 million (about $7.4 million) compound built in a traditional Chinese style. During their fifteen-year stay, the hope is that the pair will feel at home enough to mate and have little panda cubs, according to Dutch News

Panda pregnancy is a big deal, and pretty rare. According to the World Wide Fund, which uses a panda as its logo, the bears produce one cub every two years. And that’s only if the mama bears get pregnant all. Female pandas only ovulate once every mating season, which is March to May.

“The Chinese government has put in 30 years of hard work in pandas—[they are] not going to let the panda go extinct,” Dr. M. Sanjayan, senior scientist at Conservation International told National Geographic

Panda cubs are not only absolutely adorable, they’re also crucial to keeping their species alive. Pandas, widely considered a symbol of wildlife conservation, were taken off the endangered species list in September 2016.

Hopefully, their very expensive new home will be conducive to a little panda romance, so that Xing Ya and Wu Wen can keep our favorite type of bear alive and well. 

This story has been updated to clarify that the Netherlands zoo is located in the province of Utrecht, not the city. The zoo is in the town of Rhenen.

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