Source: Mondo | Thursday, 04.02.2010.| 13:15
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Chinese-language tutor wanted for panda

Chinese zookeepers are advertising for a tutor to teach Chinese to an American-born giant panda arriving this week in her parents' homeland.

The language lessons, a special diet and even blind dates are also part of the red-carpet welcome being rolled out for 3-year-old Mei Lan, or Beautiful Orchid, by Chinese caretakers ahead of her arrival on a special FedEx flight from the U.S.

Under a deal between China and the U.S., all giant pandas originally from China are only lent to foreign zoos for scientific study for several years. They and any cubs they produce must all return to China eventually.

Determined to help Mei Lan adapt more quickly to her new life, the caretakers at her new home, the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan, are recruiting a language teacher via the Internet. Mei Lan has lived at a zoo in Atlanta since her birth in 2006.

"Mei Lan has been living in the United States since she was born, and she must be unfamiliar with Chinese," Huang Xiangming, director of the center's animal management department, told the official Xinhua News Agency.

The center has set up a website on the popular Internet portal for Mei Lan, detailing the qualifications for a volunteer teacher: a bachelor's degree or higher, no history of infectious disease and good command of both English and Chinese.

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