HARBIN, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Playing with a snowman and rolling on the snowy ground, a pair of giant pandas are loving their first winter in China's northernmost province of Heilongjiang, thousands of kilometers from home.
When a blizzard dumped 40 cm of snow on the ski resort of Yabuli, the pandas, Sijia and Youyou, started living it up.
"They are just like kids playing in the snow," said their keeper Yan Yongbin at Yabuli Giant Panda House.
Temperatures in Heilongjiang rarely get up above -10 degrees Celsius at this time of year, but Sijia and Youyou are happy to spend eight hours a day outdoors rather than huddling in their cosy centrally-heated house around the clock.
Staff frequently hide bamboo into the snow, and when they find it, the pandas sit down in the snow and begin munching right there and then.
Female Sijia, 10, and Youyou, an eight-year-old male, came from Sichuan Province thousands of miles away to Yabuli in July, becoming the most northerly pandas in China. Those in Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland are 1,200 km further north, but the climate there is much less severe.
Considering the winter at Yabuli is 20 degrees lower and much drier than that in Sichuan, their house has been equipped with every conceivable comfort, and veterinarians are on standby in case they catch a cold.
According to Tang Cheng, a researcher with Dujiangyan base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP), where the pair were from, the weight and fur density of the pandas have not changed much. "The two pandas have adapted well to local conditions," he said.
Bamboo is delivered from Sichuan every five days. They also eat apples, carrots and cereals, such as steamed buns made from corn.
As is the case wherever pandas go, the pair have attracted a lot of visitors. "Tourists now head to Yabuli just to see them, and we have received many gifts specially for them," said curator Yu Tengjiao.
Although pandas have been downgraded from "endangered" to "vulnerable" by International Union for Conservation of Nature in September, fewer than 2,000 pandas live in the wild, mostly in the provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi. There are around 400 in captivity, about half of them at the CCRCGP.
Wei Rongping, a CCRCGP scientist, says resettlement of the pair is important to analyzing their living conditions and hopefully expand the range of the species.
"We are gaining a better understanding of their condition at high-latitude and further research, such as their fertility rate here, will follow," he said.