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January 7, 2010

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Pandas take to new Shanghai home

THE 10 Expo pandas' first night in Shanghai after coming from Sichuan Province was smooth and joyful - except for the wasted rooms.

The Shanghai Zoo prepared six rooms for the pandas, but the animals all squeezed into one room on Tuesday night, officials said.

Zookeepers said the pandas, which had grown up separately, were only recently put in a group, and have grown attached to one another - so much so that they preferred to stay together when arriving in their new environment of Shanghai on Tuesday afternoon.

Fortunately, the pandas seemed to love the new home.

Their keepers said the animals started to play with a sliding board or climbed trees as soon as they woke up in the morning.

"They had a rather good appetite, the breakfast bamboo proving very popular," said Chen Lihua, director of the care taking department.

Chen said she has become familiar with some of the pandas, with Min Min leaving an especially deep impression.

"He was the most incommunicative in the group," Chen said. "When the others played together, he just hid in a corner."

Chen said on Tuesday evening that Min Min would not even come out to have supper. He didn't respond to keepers until milk was brought to him. "It seemed that milk was his favorite," Chen said.

Keepers with the zoo have learned the recipe for a kind of steamed bun from their counterparts at the Wolong Panda Reserve Center in Sichuan Province.

The bun will be the staple of the pandas.

"As bamboo is not fresh after a short period of time, it will be just an additional dish," Chen said. Some of the bamboo comes from Sheshan Hill in Songjiang District and Anji, Zhejiang Province.

Other food for the pandas will include fruit, vegetables and a special, imported milk powder for animals, officials said.

The pandas are now under quarantine and inspection.

Zoo officials said after the pandas are ready for the public late this month, visitors should go to the zoo before 10am, because the pandas are most active in the morning.

"We also hope that people can watch them quietly, not to disturb them, and never feed them without keepers' permission," Chen said.


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