San Diego Zoo Giant Pandas Moving To China
Zoo visitors are packing into the pandas exhibit at the San Diego Zoo to get one final look before they leave at the end of April.
The San Diego Zoo announced the 23-year loan agreement on the pandas is set to expire. According to terms of the agreement, the pandas will be repatriated to China on April 27.
The two pandas in question are 27-year-old giant panda female Bai Yun and her 6-year-old son Xiao Liwu.
Bob Wiese, Chief Life Science Officer for San Diego Zoo Global, said he's not surprised about the departure of the pandas. He said they've been a huge draw for the zoo because they are an iconic and beloved species. He also said some of the zoo staff are missing the pandas already, but they’re excited about the conservation efforts they’ve achieved over the last two decades.
“Zoos didn’t know how to take care of pandas. They didn’t know how to raise pandas; how to get them to reproduce. But over the years, through studying their behavior, and from working on different scientific aspects, we’ve been able to turn that around. In 1996, most pandas that were born did not survive. Whereas today, most pandas in zoos and breeding centers survive at a very high rate,” said Wiese.
The loan agreement that originally brought the pandas to the San Diego Zoo is part of an international collaborative effort involving the China Wildlife Conservation Association, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, The Chinese Academy of Sciences and other organizations.
The departure of Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu follows that of giant panda male Gao Gao, who went back to China late last year.