Panda Diplomacy Returns

China is sending 2 young giant pandas to the National Zoo later this year
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2024 10:44 AM CDT
National Zoo Is Getting Visitors
In this 2015 file photo, the National Zoo's giant panda Mei Ziang sleeps in the indoor habitat at the zoo in Washington. Two giant pandas are coming to Washington’s National Zoo from China by the end of the year.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The National Zoo won't have to wait long to refill its panda habitat, reports the Washington Post, with the zoo announcing that China is sending two young pandas to DC later this year. The pair of 2-year-olds are female Qing Bao ("green" and "treasure" in Mandarin) and male Bao Li ("treasure" and "energetic"). Bao Li is the son of Bao Bao, who was born at the National Zoo, and the grandson of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who departed the zoo last November. "Dear friends, giant pandas are national treasures of China, superstars at the National Zoo, the favorite of many around the world," said Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng on Wednesday morning, per WJLA. "Now with this latest round of panda conservation cooperation, as we mark the 45th anniversary [of] diplomatic ties, American friends will get to see pandas more often."

It's a surprise bit of panda diplomacy, and zoo officials sound slightly excited. "I am filled with such joy right now," says zoo director Brandie Smith, who emphasized the importance of the breeding program, per the Post. "It's hard to express it." Qing Bao and Bao Li will stay in DC for 10 years, and there's a lease involved, in which the zoo pays $1 million a year to the China Wildlife and Conservation Association. The zoo has also been renovating the panda habitat, so the newcomers can enjoy newly installed shallow pools, bamboo stands, and the like. (More giant pandas stories.)

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