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Last Updated: Tuesday December 23 2008 09:43 GMT

Panda gift helps China friendship

Pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan

Two giant pandas are on their way to a new home in Taiwan, but this is about more than just re-homing animals.

The furry creatures are a gift from China to Taiwan - and the relationship between the two countries has been difficult for many years.

But the friendship between the countries has improved lately, and the panda present reflects that.

The pandas are called Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan - because 'tuanyuan' means 'reunion' in Chinese.

China and Taiwan split after a civil war in China ended in 1949, and since then they have been ruled separately. But China claims it still has rights over Taiwan, which has caused trouble between the two countries.

One of the pandas is loaded onto a plane
One of the pandas is loaded onto a plane
The gift is seen as a mark of their improving relationship.

The pandas were given a hearty breakfast of buns and carrots before they set off on their journey.

Bamboo

A team of animal experts is travelling with the creatures to make sure they are OK. Supplies for the pandas include lots of fresh bamboo, more buns, and even travel sickness tablets!

When they arrive in Taiwan, the pair will live at Taipei Zoo. It's thought up to 30,000 people a day might come to visit them.