TAIPEI (AFP) - Thousands of people flocked to Taiwan's main zoo Monday as a pair of giant pandas given to the island by China in a sign of improving ties between the rivals made their much-anticipated public debut. More than 6,000 visitors braved a cold, drizzly Lunar New Year's Day morning to get a glimpse of four-year-old Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan at the Taipei Zoo, officials there said. A total of 22,000 people are expected to visit the panda enclosure daily, but some visitors complained there was not enough time to take a good look at the animals due to the big crowds. "I like the pandas very much but I only got to see them for a few seconds. I want to come to the zoo again when it's less crowded," said fourth-grader Chen Yuan-pei from the southern city of Kaohsiung. The pandas, born in China's Sichuan province, were given to Taiwan as part of a series of measures by the two sides to ease tensions that have lasted since a civil war divided them in 1949. China, which still claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island, has used so-called "panda diplomacy" worldwide since the days of the Cold War. Beijing's pandas usually come with enormous rental fees, but the Chinese have said there would be no charges for Taiwan. "Tuanyuan" " a combination of the Chinese characters used in the pandas' names " means "reunion" or "unity". Vendors at the zoo enjoyed brisk sales of panda souvenirs including toys, hats, bags and balloons. "We sold more than 100 toy pandas in a few hours and our daily target of 20,000 Taiwan dollars (600 US) in sales was already met," said one vendor. China first offered pandas to Taiwan during a historic trip to the mainland by then Taiwanese opposition leader Lien Chan in 2005. But the then government of pro-independence president Chen Shui-bian rejected the offer, calling it a ploy to win over the island's 23 million people. Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were earmarked for Taiwan in 2006, but their arrival was only made possible after Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou succeeded Chen last year. The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party has accused Ma of introducing the endangered animals at the expense of Taiwan's sovereignty. The pandas, which arrived in Taipei last month, are in good health and have settled into their new surroundings, zoo director Jason Yeh said Monday. City authorities have spent about 10 million US dollars on the enclosure and hope the bears will attract six million visitors a year.