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Current Status of Panda Bear at National Zoo: Arrival and Departure

Written by JessicaDavis


Posted on February 11 2024

Panda bears have charmed people from all walks of life. Of course, not everyone can visit China to have a glimpse, but they can surely visit the nearby zoos to fulfill their desire to watch pandas in their vicinity. So, can you find a Panda bear at National Zoo? 

In this article, we will see the history and current status of National Zoo pandas in Washington, DC, to know if it’s the best time to visit the zoo for pandas. Let's have a closer look.

The History of Smithsonian's National Zoo pandas

Panda diplomacy in the United States began when Patricia Nixon, the first lady, and President Richard M. Nixon made a milestone visit to Beijing in February 1972. Patricia revealed her warmth for pandas to China's premier, Zhou Enlai, who, as a gesture of goodwill, gifted a couple of giant pandas to the American people to celebrate the hours of National Zoo in Washington DC. 

On April 16, 1972, Ling-Ling, a female giant panda, and Hsing-Hsing, a male, arrived at the Smithsonian's Washington DC National Zoo. During the next twenty years, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing produced five cubs. Unfortunately, none of their children survived for more than a few days. However, after the arrival of the Panda bear at National Zoo,  the pandas have exemplified cross-cultural collaboration between the United States and China.

On December 6, 2000, Mei Xiang, a female giant panda, and Tian Tian, a male, arrived to live at the zoo. Unlike Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, the zoo's second couple of giant pandas are on loan. Quid pro quo, the zoo provides funds and expertise toward conservation attempts in China. The zoo has extended its Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association thrice since 2000. 

On November 8, 2023, Mei Xiang, age 25, Tian Tian, age 26, and their male cub Xiao Qi Ji, age 3, departed from the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. From December 2023 on, the pandas are living at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda's ShenShuPing Campus in Wolong.

Here's What to Know About the Giant Pandas' Departure from the US

Let's see the essential facts and information about pandas at the Washington DC National Zoo. 

Legacy of Care and Conservation of National Zoo Pandas

The giant panda team at the Washington DC National Zoo has spent 51 years working with colleagues in China to move forward with conservation attempts for giant pandas in human care and in the wild. These collective efforts with Chinese partners directly provided this crucial conservation milestone. The zoo is dedicated to continuing its efforts to secure and protect a healthy future for National Zoo pandas and their habitat. 

The National Zoo Pandas Agreement

According to the Washington DC National Zoo website, an agreement with China in 2000 specified that Mei Xiang and Tian Tian would dwell at the zoo for ten years at a bargain of $10 million. 

After a decade, the Smithsonian and the China Wildlife Conservation Association signed a fresh Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement in January 2011. That agreement stipulated the pandas would live at the zoo until December 2015.

The contract was renewed to 2020, then again to 2023, just before each previous contract expired.

Until now, the zoo has not indicated when the next round of pandas will arrive or if there will even be added pandas on the way. However, there's no guarantee that giant pandas will return back to the zoo. 

The San Diego Zoo returned its giant pandas in 2019, and the last panda bear, Ya Ya, at the Memphis, Tennessee zoo, returned to China in April 2023. However, the return is controversial due to the unfortunate demise of Ya Ya's mate, Le Le, months prior to their scheduled return to China.

After the pandas depart from the Washington DC National Zoo, the only giant pandas living in America are at the Atlanta Zoo — and that loan agreement expires late in 2024. 

Will the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, and Conservation Biology Institute Get Pandas Again?

Ever since these fascinating panda bears arrived at the National Zoo in 1972, animal care staff and scientists have collaborated closely with Chinese colleagues to study giant pandas' biology, behavior, breeding, reproduction, and disease. The Washington DC National Zoo commemorated the 50th anniversary of the care, conservation, and study of giant pandas and expects to continue this work in the future. The panda bears were treated to fruitsicle cakes to celebrate the occasion.

However, after the departure of the giant pandas from the National Zoo for China, Giant Panda Cam, presently sponsored by Boeing, will go offline. 

Hotels Near Washington DC National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Here's the list of the ten closest hotels to the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, Washington DC, mentioned hereunder. 

  1. Lyle Washington DC
  2. The LINE Hotel DC
  3. The Normandy Hotel
  4. The Royal Sonesta Washington DC Dupont Circle
  5. The Dupont Circle
  6. The Watergate Hotel
  7. The Churchill Hotel Near Embassy Row
  8. Omni Shoreham Hotel 
  9. Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington DC Georgetown
  10. HighRoad Washington DC

If you want to show your love, affection, and emotions towards these cute endangered National Zoo pandas, you must visit Pandadorf.com. You can explore a fabulous collection of a lot of panda-themed items like amazing costumes, striking clothing, effervescent jewelry, blinding necklaces, stylish accessories, and much more to keep the adorable panda bears always in mind and heart. 

If you want to always keep alive your warm feelings for cute and adorable panda bears, you must visit Pandadorf.com. Here you will see the panda.

Now you know the current status of the Panda bear at National Zoo in Washington DC and other zoos in the United States. However, it is noteworthy that animal Diplomacy regarding National Zoo pandas is about people and relationship-building. To the extent that the appearance of exotic or cute animals can impact people's insight into the gifting country, animal diplomacy is indeed highly effective. However, people in the United States, and especially in the DC area, are disheartened by the pandas' departure. Will that regret translate into a change in US policy? Maybe not. But does it place China and its concerns into the minds of DC's residents? Maybe yes. On the edge, when diplomacy includes personalities with all their flaws and foibles, that could create diversity.



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