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HomeNewsNational Zoo to Send Giant Pandas Back to China in 2023

National Zoo to Send Giant Pandas Back to China in 2023

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The Smithsonian National Zoo’s beloved giant pandas, Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), and their nearly four-month-old son Xiao Qi Ji (SHIAU-chi-ji), will move back to China at the end of 2023, the Zoo announced.

A three-year agreement extension signed by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and China Wildlife and Conservation Association is scheduled to end in December 2023. The original leasing agreement with China was set to expire this month.

Cub Xiao Qi Ji was born at the Zoo on August 21 this year to the 22-year-old female giant panda Mei Xiang, who was artificially inseminated back in March with frozen semen obtained from 23-year-old Tian Tian. The panda cub received his name Xiao Qi Ji — which means “little miracle” in Mandarin Chinese — following an online public vote held by the Zoo last month. Around 135,000 people voted to name the cub.

“Our long-standing collaboration with Chinese colleagues to study, care for and save the giant panda will now pass the half-century mark,” said Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Zoo, about the agreement in a press release.

“Through the power of science and cooperation, and with the support of the public and benefactors like David Rubenstein, our work on behalf of this beloved bear species continues. Along with millions of Americans, I look forward to the next three years, watching Xiao Qi Ji grow and making further strides in conservation and in our understanding of giant pandas,” Monfort continued.

The Zoo also announced that David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group and member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, was planning to donate $3 million to fund the Zoo’s giant panda research and conservation program through the end of 2023.

Rubenstein has donated a total of $12 million in support of the Zoo’s giant panda conservation program, according to the release.

The new donation will be used for conservation efforts in China, including research, monitoring wildlife diseases, assessing impacts of climate change, upgrades to the giant panda habitat and exhibit at the Zoo, care for the pandas at the Zoo, as well as public education about the species and conservation.

“Giant pandas are an incredible species that still need our help,” Rubenstein was quoted as saying in the Zoo’s statement. “Supporting the Zoo’s giant panda conservation program is very rewarding.”

The Zoo is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But panda enthusiasts can follow updates on the cub via its website, on social media under the hashtags #PandaStory and #PandaCubdates and by subscribing to its Giant Panda e-newsletter.

 

National Zoo’s Beloved Panda Cub Finally Gets Name via Public Vote

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