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People of China present a statue of Ming the Giant Panda to ZSL London Zoo

TO MARK the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the people of China have presented a statue of Ming the Giant Panda to ZSL London Zoo.

Ming was the first giant panda ever seen in the UK and between 1938 and 1944, she divided her time between London Zoo and ZSL’s other establishment, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo about 40 miles from London. She became a symbol of friendship and stability as Londoners suffered during the Blitz.

She quickly became a celebrity and thousands of children visited Ming until her death in 1944. Amongst the children who flocked to see her were Princess Elizabeth, now the UK’s monarch, and her sister Princess Margaret.

Representing a symbol of enduring friendship between China and the UK, the statue stands at 1.6 metres high and was made by a group of artists in Sichuan. It was organised by China’s State Council Information Office, China Daily, Sichuan Provincial government and The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

The Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, along with Shaanxi Tourism Group, and China Builiding Technique Group & Guildhouse, a joint venture between China Building Technique Group and its British partner, made a donation of £10,000 to the Zoological Society of London’s worldwide conservation work.

The statue was shipped to ZSL London Zoo and was installed during a special ceremony on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

Unveiling the statue at the ceremony, Guo Weimin, Deputy Director of China’s State Council Information Office, said: “Today we are here to unveil the statue of Ming. This has a special meaning – Ming was named after a Chinese dynasty but also means Brightness in Mandarin.”

He added: “This is to promote China-UK friendship and communication. Ming will continue to bring joy and happiness to London.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson sent a message to the people attending the unveiling, saying: “I am pleased to hear China Daily is staging an event during the state visit (of President Xi Jinping) to encourage tourism and cultural exchange to the capital. I look forward to welcoming more visitors, students and businesses from China to our great city.”

In addition to the statue, which is sited permanently close to the compound where Ming lived during her time at the zoo, the Giant Panda Research Base, China Building Technique Group Company and its UK partner, Guildhouse, as well as the Shaanxi Tourism Group, presented a cheque for £10,000 pounds to the ZSL as a donation towards its conservation work.

British Airways flew the statue free of charge from Chengdu to London.

Gao Anming, Deputy Editor in Chief of China Daily, paid tribute to everyone involved in the statue project.

“It has taken a lot of work in a short space of time to make this project become a reality,” he said. “We should pay tribute to the team at Chengdu Sculpture Association, who designed and created this fine statue, which represents the way such a fine creature can link two cultures.”