Chinese official hands over new panda to Vienna zoo

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VIENNA (AP) — A senior Chinese official has officially handed over a 19-year-old male giant panda to Vienna’s Schoenbrunn zoo.

Yuan Yuan arrived in Vienna last month and has spent the last few weeks in quarantine. He was chosen as a partner for Yang Yang, the zoo’s 18-year-old female panda, who has been at the zoo since 2003 but without a companion since its previous male, Long Hui, died of cancer in 2016.

Li Zhanshu, the head of China’s parliament, handed over Yuan Yuan at a ceremony Monday. China lends the rare bears to other countries as a sign of goodwill in what is known as “panda diplomacy.” Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen described the animals as a “symbol of friendship” and said they have a “certain diplomatic mission.”

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