Surprisingly, giant pandas return to the US

China agreed to a 10-year lease on the pandas, which will run until April 2034. The zoo will pay the Chinese government $1 million a year to display the pandas. The news came as a surprise, given the tense situation between the governments of the United States and China.

Bao Li and Qing Bao will be the zoo’s newest celebrities, and in an ironic twist, one of those pandas is actually the grandson (panda grandpa?) of the couple who left in 2023. They’ll arrive at the end of the year. .

“We are thrilled to announce that the next chapter of our breeding and conservation partnership begins with welcoming two new bears to Washington, D.C., including a descendant of our beloved panda family,” said Brandie Smith, director of the John and Adrienne Mars at the National Center for Zoological Institute and Conservation Biology, in a statement. “This historic moment is proof positive that our collaboration with Chinese colleagues has had an irrefutable impact. “Through this partnership, we have increased the panda population, advanced our shared understanding of how to care for this beloved bear, and learned what it takes to protect wild pandas and preserve native habitat.”

Bao Li, whose name means “treasure” and “energetic,” and Qing Bao, whose name means “green” and “treasure,” will be transported to the United States via FedEx via dedicated flight and ground transportation. From there, they will be quarantined, per standard procedure, for 30 days and then allowed to settle into their new habitat for a few weeks before public tours begin.

The public debut date will be announced closer to that time. The move comes after China loaned two pandas to the San Diego Zoo earlier this year.

panda diplomacy

Pandas were first loaned to the National Zoo during the Nixon administration, when national relations between the two countries were formalized. For decades, China has lent pandas to countries it hoped to establish ties with, a policy called “Panda Diplomacy.”

However, last year China terminated those on loan, not only from the United States but also from zoos in Scotland. Tensions between the United States and China began to rise during the Trump administration, when sanctions were added to many products made in China, but have increasingly deteriorated. Washington has attempted to deprive China of cutting-edge computer chips, citing national security concerns.

Pandas are native to China and the zoos that house them are never given full custody. Instead, they “rent” them, paying hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to China each year. Long a member of the endangered species list, pandas are no longer considered at serious risk and were downgraded to “vulnerable” to the threat of extinction in 2021. The National Zoo estimates there are about 1,864 pandas living in wild state in China.

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