San Diego Zoo to receive two giant pandas from China

It will be the first time in five years where pandas are living in San Diego.

China plans to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, as part of its longstanding gesture of friendship towards the United States.

Previous pandas had been sent back as relations between both countries took a turn for the worse. 


Driving the news: If approved, two pandas, a male and a female, are expected to arrive at the San Diego Zoo by the end of summer. 

  • That would be about five years since the zoo had to send pandas back to China. 
  • The partnership between China and the San Diego Zoo will include research on disease prevention, habitat protection, and contribute to China’s national panda park construction.
  • China is also in talks with zoos in Madrid, Washington, D.C., and Vienna for similar cooperation agreements.

The big picture: The return of pandas to the San Diego Zoo marks a renewed cooperation in panda diplomacy after most pandas on loan to U.S. zoos were sent back to China due to strained relations.

  • Giant pandas have been a symbol of U.S.-China friendship since 1972 when China gifted a pair to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
  • Zoos typically pay a fee for two pandas, with the money earmarked for China’s conservation efforts.
  • The San Diego Zoo has been working with Chinese counterparts even after it no longer had any pandas, and China is interested in exchanging information on successful panda breeding in captivity.
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