NEW YORK -- Two giant pandas from China were resting under quarantine at the Bronx Zoo Sunday following a journey half way around the world, but it may be a while before the public can get a peek at the animals, officials said.
The pandas, like other exotic imports, will be under quarantine for at least 10 days.
Yong Yong, a 6-year-old female that visited the United States during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and her 1 -year-old male companion, Ling Ling, arrived at Kennedy International Airport in shipping crates Saturday night aboard a Chinese jet. They were quickly whisked under tight security to the Bronx Zoo.
They will stay in New York for at least six months under an agreement between officials in New York and its sister city, Beijing.
Zoo officials said they could not disclose when the pandas will make their debut or divulge any other details of their stay until Mayor Edward Koch makes an official announcement on their arrival Monday morning.
But the officials said the pandas were resting and, in keeping with zoo policy for all newly received animals, were being kept separate from man and other animals to prevent the possible spread of disease.
The quarantine will last at least 10 days during which no visitors or photographs will be allowed, said David Mleczko, a zoo spokesman.
'They appear to be resting OK,' he said of the pair.
The pandas' arrival capped off years of effort by Koch and other city officials who had hoped to get two pandas for the city's very own.
But China no longer gives away the bear-like animals because their numbers have dwindled to 1,000 and the bamboo groves that make up their native habitat are threatened.
City officials then hoped the two visitng pandas would mate and have a cub during their New York honeymoon stay, but zoo officials said such a mating is unlikely.
Although it's spring -- prime panda mating season -- Ling Ling is considered too young and Yong Yong too aggresive to mate successfully.
Yong Yong, whose name means forever young, was found abandoned in the wild as an infant and is more surly than Ling Ling, whose name means ringing bell.
China shipped two other pandas to the Bronx Zoo in 1941, on the eve of United States involvement in World War II. The pandas lived until 1943 and 1951, zoo spokesmen said.
Two other pandas from China were given to the United States in 1972 following former President Richard Nixon's visit to that country. A female named Ling Ling and a male named Hsing Hsing live at the National Zoo in Washington, but have never produced an offspring that lived more than a few hours.
New York is expected to charge admission to see the pandas under the agreement with Beijing. Money raised will go toward Chinese conservation programs designed to save the vanishing species.