Tokyo rents giant pandas

80 million yen buys Bili and Xiannu a new ten-year home

Tokyo rents giant pandas

Giant panda, photo by Sebastian Bergmann

Anyone in the Ueno area yesterday will have noticed a common theme. Restaurants, billboards, scaffolding — all benefitted from a panda-themed makeover as the area, home to Japan's oldest zoo, prepares for the arrival of its newest inhabitants.

Bili and Xiannu, a pair of giant pandas from China's Sichuan province, will arrive in the capital this evening on a panda-themed plane (decorated in black and white), to begin a life at the centre of public attention, munching on rare bamboo brought into Tokyo from Mount Izu. The arrival of the giant pandas, the first since the death of Ling Ling in 2008, is expected to boost the Tokyo economy by 20 billion yen (240 million dollars) per year.

The pandas, who will live in a renovated panda enclosure, are costing Tokyo taxpayers 80 million yen (960,000 dollars) for a ten year stay. The money will fund the redevelopment of a panda sanctuary in Sichuan Province.

Bili and Xiannu are expected to make their public debut in late March.

By Jon Wilks
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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