by Li Jizhi
AHTARI, Finland, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Surrounded by calm lakes and thick woods, a spacious building has been erected in the Ahtari zoo in central Finland to accommodate a pair of giant pandas, who will arrive hopefully by the end of this year.
Ahtari zoo, the largest wildlife zoo in Finland, has paced up the preparation for receiving the newcomers. A ceremony was held on Friday to celebrate the completion of the roof construction of the panda house.
The ceremony is a typical Finnish tradition: The owner of a newly built house shall invite the construction workers and relatives and friends to dinner when the house is capped with a roof, said Mikko Savola, member of Finnish parliament and the board director of Ahtari wildlife zoo company.
The ceremony also means that eighty percent of the construction is finished, and the panda house will be ready for use as of November, added Savola.
According to an agreed project, the two countries are supposed to jointly conduct a research of the giant panda and a pair of pandas will be staying in Ahtari zoo for 15 years. During the research period, the offspring belong to the Chinese authority and will be sent back to the mother country within five years after they are born.
"The arrival of the giant pandas signifies the fact that Finnish international cooperation reaches the highest level ever since its independence," Finnish Agriculture and Forestry Minister Jari Leppa said in his speech at the ceremony. The year of 2017 marks the centenary of the independence of Finland.
Chinese Ambassador Chen Li said the joint project is the best gift to the Finnish people when they celebrate the centenary of independence. The construction of the panda house started only nine months ago, and the amazing speed of the working process manifests the sincerity for cooperation.
Leppa said Finland specializes in the study of bear family animals, and Finnish experts have been dispatched to China for knowledge exchanges. Leppa believed the pandas will enjoy the comfortable natural environment and the vast open space in Finland.
The panda house occupies some 10,000 square meters, including the panda's indoor living rooms, an outdoor playing park as well as auxiliary facilities like restaurants and cafeterias. It will become the biggest construction inside the zoo.
Frequent exchanges are going on concerning the inspection of the facilities and training of the professionals.