Pandas Return: Giant Pandas Bao Li and Qing Bao Make Waves in Washington – Get the Inside Scoop!

Washington, D.C. – Giant pandas are making a triumphant return to the United States. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo revealed on Wednesday that two new giant pandas, 2-year-old male Bao Li and 2-year-old female Qing Bao, are set to arrive from China later this year. Bao Li, with deep roots in the District, is the son of the beloved Bao Bao, a female giant panda born at the zoo in 2013. He is also the grandson of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, a panda couple whose departure from the zoo last year marked the end of an era.

As a new era dawns, the anticipation for these new giant pandas to captivate zoo-goers with pandamania and potentially produce cubs is palpable. Brandie Smith, the zoo’s director, expressed her joy, emphasizing the importance of the program in the conservation of the endangered species. Giant pandas have been a major attraction, drawing millions of visitors to D.C. and captivating audiences worldwide through the panda cam.

The announcement of the new pandas arriving on a 10-year lease, with the zoo paying the China Wildlife and Conservation Association $1 million annually, came as a surprise amidst the recent tensions between the United States and China. Despite the short period since Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their son Xiao Qi Ji departed last year, the arrival of Bao Li and Qing Bao signifies a fresh start and a new chapter in the zoo’s giant panda legacy.

Plans are underway for the arrival and acclimatization of the new pandas, with careful consideration of their welfare and the possibility of natural breeding or artificial insemination. The zoo is eagerly preparing their habitat, with renovations, including a new landscape and features for the pandas’ enrichment. Additionally, a fundraising drive has been initiated to support the giant panda programs and habitat improvements.

The significance of bringing back pandas with local lineage is highlighted, reinforcing the zoo’s commitment to genetic diversity and conservation efforts. The cooperative agreement signed with the China Wildlife and Conservation Association aims to advance research on natural breeding and assisted reproduction methods.

Preparations for the new pandas’ arrival, including quarantine and habitat adjustments, are in progress. The anticipation for their public debut and the opportunity for visitors to witness these iconic creatures is building. The National Zoo’s enduring dedication to panda conservation and research continues as it prepares for this new chapter in the giant panda story.