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Chinese Panda bears arrive in Canada.

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March 25, 2013 12:52 PM EST | AP


TORONTO — Canada is welcoming two giant pandas on loan from China.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai were among those on hand at Pearson airport on Monday to welcome five-year-old Er Shun and her prospective mate, four-year-old Da Mao.

They arrived in the "Panda Express," a specially outfitted plane branded with an image of a panda on its exterior.

Their arrival marks the realization of a deal reached when Harper visited China a year ago, and is seen as a sign of warmer diplomatic relations. Ties between the countries have improved since Harper's first visit in 2009, when recently retired Premier Wen Jiabao publicly chided Harper for taking so long to visit China.

The pandas will go to the Toronto and Calgary zoos for five years each.