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Taipei Guest House to open with swans

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Baroque-style Taipei Guest House (台北賓館), a century-old national historic landmark, will be open to the public today, featuring 11 newborn baby black swans, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday.

The 11 baby black swans, known as cygnets, were born last month and are the children of four black swan couples that live on the property of the Taipei Guest House, said Lee Fang-cheng (李芳成), head of MOFA's Department of General Affairs. The MOFA unit is responsible for maintaining and managing the building.

The ministry first purchased two black swans from the Council of Agriculture (COA) in 2006, according to Lee.

Lee said MOFA welcomes visitors to visit the guest house that is scheduled to be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

To celebrate the birth of the newest residents, the ministry has also prepared limited edition bookmarks and balloons that feature baby swan motifs as gifts for visitors to the house, he said.

The official, however, reminds visitors to keep a safe distance from the swans during their visit. The cygnets are still small and their parents are known to aggressively protect their nests. Swans may attack people who enter their territory, Lee added.

MOFA is also planning to launch a competition to name the young swans.

An exhibition features artifacts from the house and documentary films of the architecture will also play during the opening, according to MOFA.

MOFA said guest house visitors are required to present identifying documents and submit to security checks in order to be allowed entry, and they are advised to show up before 3:30 p.m., the cutoff time for admission to the building.

Photography in the guest house is prohibited and certain areas will also be off-limits to visitors, the ministry noted.

Taipei Guest House History

The Taipei Guest House grounds cover 3.4 hectares. It is located on Ketagalan Boulevard, across the street from MOFA's headquarters in downtown Taipei.

Designed by Japanese architects and completed in 1901, the house previously served as the residence of the governor-general during the Japanese occupation.

The building's name was changed to Taipei Guest House in 1950, and it is now used to receive state guests or hold national banquets, meetings or other events.

The government decided to regularly open the building to the general public in 2006 at the completion of a NT$400 million restoration project. MOFA now holds a guest house opening once every month.

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A total of 11 baby black swans sit on the lawn of the Taipei Guest House (台北賓館) in Taipei, yesterday. The house will be open to the public today, featuring the newborn black swans.

(CNA)

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