|The chartered plane carrying two giant pandas Xing Hui and Hao Hao arrives at the Brussels National Airport in the capital of Belgium on Feb. 23, 2014. The pair of giant pandas, Xing Hui, the male, and Hao Hao, the female, arrived in Belgium Sunday, on lease from their breeding center in southwest China's Sichuan Province. They are both four years old and will stay in Belgium for the next 15 years. (Xinhua/Zhou Lei)
BRUSSELS, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- A pair of giant pandas from southwest China's Sichuan Province arrived at the Brussels Airport at around 12:00 local time (1100GMT) Sunday.
The pandas, Xing Hui, the male and Hao Hao, the female, are both 4 years old and are on lease from a breeding center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Liao Liqiang are among the welcoming group at the Brussels Airport.
The pair of giant pandas arrived by charted DHL aircraft. Both are in good conditions. After the appearance at the airport, the pandas will leave for their new home in the Pairi Daiza zoo, some 60 km to the southwest of Brussels.
The lease term for Xinghui and Hao Hao is 15 years, according to the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, the world's largest research base for the species.
"It's the first time that we have sent animals abroad for so long," Zhang Hemin, head of the center, told Xinhua earlier.
Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species. About 1,600 live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, while more than 300 live in captivity.
Known as China's "national gem," more than 40 pandas are on lease and their offspring now live in dozens of zoos in over 10 countries.