China's Pandas Worth More Than Tiger Woods: Australian Zoo

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Two giant pandas due to begin a 10-year stay at an Australian zoo could give the local economy a bigger boost than recent visits by Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong, officials said Wednesday.Wang Wang, four, and three-year-old Funi are due to arrive at Adelaide Zoo Saturday for a long-term loan from the Panda Protection and Research Centre at Ya’an in China’s Sichuan Province.

Zoos South Australia chief Chris West said the stay would be a “financial bonanza” for the state’s economy, reaping an estimated 600-million dollar benefit over the 10 years.”The pandas can be expected to generate 632 million dollars (584 million US) for the state economy over 10 years,” West said.”Each year (the pandas) could generate significantly more economic benefits than the much-vaunted appearances by golfer Tiger Woods or cyclist Lance Armstrong,” he added.

West said the zoo was expecting “huge” visitor numbers for the pandas, which will be the only ones of their kind in the southern hemisphere.”The average increase in visitation at the US zoos (with pandas) has been 70 percent for about two years after their arrival, and another 30 percent if and when baby pandas were born,” he said.The pandas will spend their first month in Australia quarantined in a new purpose-built enclosure, which features refrigerated rocks to help keep them cool through what is forecast to be a summer of record-breaking heat.Their first public appearance will be on December 13, and zookeepers said they would focus on trying to breed panda cubs — a notoriously difficult task for the low-sexed creatures.

(source)

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