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France welcomes 2 giant pandas from China

January 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A specially chartered airplane flew two giant pandas from China to France on Sunday.

The plane flew female panda Huan Huan and male panda Yuan Zi from China to central France.

The two are France's first pandas since the death of one more than a decade ago. Their "Panda Express" airplane was greeted with applause at the Paris airport.

On loan from China, Yuan Zi ("chubby in Chinese) and Huan Huan ("happy"), both 3 years old, will live at the Zoo Parc de Beauval, in the Loire Valley for 10 years.

China has long used "panda diplomacy" to make friends and influence people in other countries. Last month, two pandas from China debuted at Scotland's Edinburgh Zoo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.