December 1, 2023

The Washington, D.C., Countrywide Zoo will quickly say goodbye to its famed giant pandas. They are established to return to China at the conclusion of the 12 months following dwelling in the nation’s cash for around two decades.

Huge pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived at the zoo in December 2000, and their keep through the zoo’s Huge Panda Cooperative Investigation and Breeding settlement with the China Wildlife Conservation Affiliation has been renewed 3 situations given that 2010.


Giant Pandas
Large pandas Mei Xiang, left, and her cub Xiao Qi Ji try to eat bamboo at the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo in Washington, Saturday, April 16, 2022.

(AP Picture/Jose Luis Magana)

The most current renewal is anticipated to expire on Dec. 7, 2023. Saturday will begin the zoo’s 9-working day “Panda Palooza” function that provides panda-themed pursuits and a possibility to say goodbye to the pandas and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji. The competition will run till Oct. 1, the similar day a likely governing administration shutdown could near the zoo.

The occasion will contain arts-and-crafts areas, engage in sections, a conservation-themed scavenger hunt, dwell music, and movie screenings of Kung Fu Panda and The Miracle Panda at the Visitor Heart Theater.

Xiao Qi Ji is the most recent of four cubs birthed by Mei Xiang. Her other cubs, Bei Bei, Bao Bao, and Tai Shan, had been all transported again to China over the previous 13 many years. Celebratory food products will be provided courtesy of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, for each the zoo.

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Giant Panda cub Tai Shan cuddles with his mother, Mei Xiang, when they take in melon balls in the early morning at the Smithsonian Countrywide Zoological Park on Aug. 30, 2006.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Countrywide Zoo has housed pandas due to the fact 1972, operating with China to analyze the animals’ biology, behavior, and conditions. 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of the very first arrival of giant pandas at the zoo.

The 1st pandas to get there in Washington were Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, who used 20 decades together. Ling-Ling died in 1992 of heart failure at 23 years aged. Hsing-Hsing was euthanized in 1999 soon after suffering from age-connected illnesses.

Huge pandas have been on the endangered species list for more than 25 a long time right until 2016, when the species’s position was downgraded to “susceptible” by the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature. China reclassified the species as “susceptible” in 2021.

“We’re operating with our Chinese associates to establish a new giant panda application,” Annalisa Meyer, a spokeswoman with the National Zoo, stated in a statement in August.

“Soon after 51 a long time of good results, we keep on being committed to the conservation of this species, which involves attaining a better knowledge of the huge panda habitat. We’ve completed a large amount. Now it is a question of what the science and conservation needs are for the upcoming and how do we finest pool our expertise and resources to achieve new conservation aims,” she included.

National Zoo Panda
Bao Bao, the 4 and a 50 percent month aged large panda, tends to make her public debut at an indoor habitat at the Countrywide Zoo in Washington, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.

Charles Dharapak

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Officials with the National Zoo expressed that they had contacted Chinese officials to see if they could hold the pandas in Washington “forever,” but it appears an agreement had not been arrived at.

The zoo declared that the pandas’ most the latest birthdays, which include Tian Tian’s this Sunday, would be “their previous birthdays in Washington, D.C.”