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San Diego Zoo to Receive 2 Giant Pandas From China

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The San Diego Zoo will soon be home to two giant pandas from China, the first to enter the United States in more than two decades, zoo officials said on Wednesday.

The pandas, Yun Chuan and Xin Bao, were bid farewell at a ceremony on Wednesday at the China Conservation & Research Center for Giant Pandas in Sichuan Province. Afterward, they were to be flown to the United States, the San Diego Zoo said in a statement.

Paul Baribault, the president and chief executive of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, said in the statement that a partnership between his organization and the China Wildlife Conservation Association had been “instrumental in advancing giant panda conservation.”

“We look forward to continuing our work together to ensure the survival and thriving of this iconic species,” Mr. Baribault said.

Mayor Todd Gloria of San Diego, who attended the farewell ceremony, said on social media that the partnership “will help protect these magnificent creatures and their habitat.”

It was unclear exactly when Yun Chuan, a 4-year-old male, and Xin Bao, a 3-year-old female, would arrive in San Diego, but whenever they arrive it will still be some time before the public will be able to see them at the zoo. The pandas will need a few weeks to acclimate to their new home before they will be on view for visitors, the zoo said.

Yun Chuan and Xin Bao will the first pandas to enter the United States in 21 years, according to the San Diego Zoo. The United States will soon receive another pair of pandas — Bao Li and Qing Bao — who are expected to be flown from China to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington by the end of the year.

Panda-swapping has been a longstanding sign of diplomacy between the U.S. and China, with zoos across the country taking in some while sending back others over the years.

Zhen Zhen, who was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2007 and later returned to China, is the mother of Yun Chuan. (The San Diego Zoo sent its last pandas back to China in 2019.)

There are just over 1,860 pandas in the wild around the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Pandas live mostly in temperate forests high in southwest China, where they feed on bamboo. Pandas must eat about 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo daily, and they can grow to up to 300 pounds and more than 4 feet tall.

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