CHENGDU, China. -- The skyline of Hong Kong was impressive. The reception in Fuzhou was humbling.
The word Lincoln (WA) High School junior Haley Naparan used to describe Chengdu? “Cute.”
“I think pandas are the definition of cute,” said Naparan.
Naparan is one of 97 Lincoln High School students from Tacoma, Washington on an 11-day tour through Hong Kong and mainland China.
The group toured the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on Friday morning. They saw three adult giant pandas, eight babies and a number of red pandas.
The students are guests of the Chinese government. Chinese President Xi Jinping invited the group to visit him when he toured their Tacoma campus in September of 2015.
One of the Americans who helped organize the tour, Lakewood businessman Ron Chow, is part of a foundation trying to get China to grant two pandas to a Western Washington zoo.
Both Woodland Park and Point Defiance have raised concerns about the costs associated with having a panda exhibit.
Chow, who was on the tour with the Lincoln group, said he does not see finding sponsors or the funding necessary for the pandas to be a hurdle.
“With all the multi-international companies and the wealth we have generated in the Seattle region, I really think financially it should not be an issue,” said Chow.
Late Friday, the Tacoma group arrived in Beijing. Saturday’s itinerary includes a trip to the Great Wall and a tour of the Forbidden City.
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