Australian opposition promises to extend zoo's panda loan

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-18 11:15:41|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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CANBERRA, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Australia's opposition Labor Party (ALP) has promised funds to keep two giant pandas on loan at an Australian zoo.

Wang Wang and Fu Ni have been on loan from China at the Adelaide Zoo in South Australia since November 2009 but the 10-year loan, which costs the zoo approximately 1 million U.S. dollars annually, is set to expire.

Penny Wong, the ALP's foreign affairs spokesperson, promised on Sunday that the party would extend the deal until at least 2024 if victorious at May's general election, describing the pandas as a "great boost for tourism."

"Without funding, unfortunately the pandas would have to go home in November," she told reporters in Adelaide.

"But today I'm announcing that a Labor government, if elected, will ensure that the pandas stay here in Adelaide and will fund (the deal) for five years at 1.3 million Australian dollars (928,000 USD) a year.

"I hope the (incumbent government) can come aboard and match what we've committed to today."

The announcement was mocked by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who suggested it was inappropriate to focus on the pandas at a time when Queensland was recovering from widespread flooding.