The Guardian

Own a Guardian classic photograph: Ching Ching greets Chia Chia, 1981

The Guardian

In September 1974, two adolescent pandas left Beijing for Britain, a gift from Chairman Mao Zedong to the then prime minister, Edward Heath. Within three weeks of the animals’ arrival, visitor numbers to London Zoo doubled, to 16,000 a week. But despite high hopes for the pair breeding, they showed no romantic interest in one another. So, in 1981, they were separated for nine months while Chia Chia, the male (right), was ferried to Washington on an unsuccessful mating mission. The Guardian photographer Frank Martin was at London Zoo to capture the moment they were reunited at the end of the year.Words: Hannah Booth

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February 14, 2020 at 05:39PM

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