Giant pandas Wu Wen and Xing Ya may possibly make their appearance on Dutch soccer fields, as Marcel Boekhoorn, the owner of the Dutch zoo where the pandas are currently residing, is trying to get their image placed on the shirts of the players of Dutch soccer club NEC.
The coming of the two pandas to the Netherlands was partly made possible by Boekhoorn, a 57-year-old businessman who, next to owner of the Ouwehands Zoo, also is an important sponsor of NEC, a First Division soccer club from the Dutch City of Nijmegen.
The billionaire told Dutch local media Omroep Gelderland on Wednesday that he is sure that the unique animals will appear on the outfit of his favorite club.
NEC does not want to confirm the deal yet, but does confirm that negotiations are ongoing. “We are holding talks and are looking at how we can give shape to this. But for that, we also need EnergieFlex,” a spokesperson of the club told Omroep Gelderland. Dutch energy supplier EnergieFlex is the current shirt sponsor of the club, with a contract running until July 2018.
After 16 years of consultations and preparations, male giant panda Xing Ya and female Wu Wen arrived at Ouwehands Zoo in the Dutch city of Rhenen on April 12 this year, as a symbolic gift to the Netherlands by China. After six weeks in quarantine, they were seen by the public for the first time on May 30.
The three-and-a-half-year-old pandas will stay at the Dutch zoo for 15 years.