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Two giant pandas from China to arrive at San Diego Zoo under conservation partnership

People visit the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California, Feb. 22, 2024. (Zeng Hui/Xinhua via Getty Images)

(SAN DIEGO) — A pair of giant pandas are set to travel from China to the San Diego Zoo this summer, marking the first time the Southern California wildlife facility will house giant pandas since 2019.


On Monday, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance announced that care team leaders recently traveled to meet the two giant pandas, Yun Chuan and Xin Bao, ahead of their journey to San Diego.

“It was an honor to see Yun Chuan and Xin Bao in person and meet our conservation partners caring for them at the Wolong and Bifengxia Panda Bases,” Dr. Megan Owen, vice president of conservation science at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, said in a press release.

Yun Chuan, a nearly five-year-old male panda, who is described as being “mild-mannered, gentle and lovable,” has a deep connection with the San Diego Zoo, according to the alliance.

His mother, Zhen Zhen, was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2007 and lived at the facility for 23 years.

“Yun Chuan’s lineage has deep connections to the San Diego Zoo and we’re excited by the prospect of caring for them,” Owen said in the release.

Xin Bao is a nearly four-year-old female giant panda who was born at the Wolong Shenshuping Panda Base, according to the release, which notes she is a “gentle and witty introvert with a sweet round face and big ears.”

The exact date of the pandas’ arrival at the San Diego Zoo has not been announced, but the alliance is looking forward to a prospective arrival this summer, according to the release.

The San Diego Zoo has a longstanding partnership with leading conservation institutions in China to transport, care for and research giant pandas that spans nearly three decades.

Dubbed “panda diplomacy,” the China Wildlife and Conservation Association has transported pandas to U.S. facilities since 1972, according to the release.

The main focus of research includes giant panda reproductive behavior and physiology, nutritional requirements and habitat needs, according to the alliance.

Giant pandas are the rarest member of the bear family and among the world’s most threatened animals, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Globally, there are only 1,864 giant pandas that remain in the wild, according to WWF, which notes the bears mainly reside in forests high in the mountains of southwest China, where their diets subsist almost entirely on bamboo.

Giant pandas must consume 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo every day, making bamboo conservation in San Diego essential to care for the animals.

“Our partnership over the decades has served as a powerful example of how, when we work together, we can achieve what was once thought to be impossible,” Owen said in the release.

“We have a shared goal of creating a sustainable future for giant pandas,” she said.

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