Panda diplomacy returns as China plans to send animals to San Diego Zoo

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Panda diplomacy is once again planned between China and the U.S.

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Less than a year after China wanted the pandas that lived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., pandas are once again going to be on loan in America.

Pandas had also lived at the Memphis Zoo and at Zoo Atlanta. Memphis’ pandas were sent back to China last April. Atlanta’s are the only remaining pandas in the U.S., NBC News reported.

The China Wildlife Conservation Association has agreed to send pandas to San Diego and is in talks to send them to Washington, D.C., The Associated Press reported.

Officials at the San Diego Zoo said they may get a male and female panda as early as the end of the summer, five years after the zoo had sent back its last pandas to China.

Zoos typically have to pay $1 million a year for two pandas that goes to China’s conservation efforts. The first giant pandas were sent to the U.S. in 1972, NBC News reported.

The bears earmarked to come to the U.S. are female descendants of Bai Yun and Gao Gao, two bears that had lived at the San Diego Zoo.

Bai Yun lived at the zoo for 20 years after being born in captivity in China. She had six cubs. She and her son were San Diego’s last pandas and returned to China in 2019.

Gao Gao was born in the wild in China. He lived at San Diego Zoo from 2003 to 2018.

In addition to the San Diego Zoo, pandas are also going to be sent to Madrid and potentially to Vienna, Austria, NBC News reported.

About 1,800 pandas live in the wild while 600 are in captivity.

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