Pandas Coming Back to National Zoo in Washington


The Smithsonian National Zoo announced Wednesday that giant pandas are set to return to Washington, D.C.

After nearly six months without pandas, China will be sending two panda bears to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington. In a lighthearted video featuring First Lady Jill Biden, the Smithsonian revealed the pandas’ upcoming arrival.

“As Secretary of the Smithsonian, I’m thrilled to announce that within this year, we’ll once again welcome a new pair of giant pandas to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo,” Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian, said in the announcement video.

Panda bears Qing Bao and Bao Li will arrive in Washington sometime before the end of 2024. The exact timeline has not been disclosed.

Since 1972, the United States and China have engaged in panda diplomacy. The first pandas were sent to the U.S. under then-President Richard Nixon, and First Lady Pat Nixon donated them to the National Zoo.

In the late 2010s, as diplomatic relations became strained, China began not renewing contracts for pandas to stay in the U.S. In 2019, the pandas at the San Diego Zoo returned to China. Late last year, Washington’s pandas also made their way back to China.

Giant pandas eat bamboo at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, May 4, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Following that, Bunch wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on the significance of panda diplomacy.

“Pandas are a vital source of cultural diplomacy — using the arts, science, and history to help nations find common ground with the hopes of building on our shared humanity to create a more peaceful world. The pandas were a bridge between the American people and the Chinese people,” Bunch, along with undersecretary Ellen Stofan, wrote.

“If we can save this iconic species, then surely, we can work together to tackle some of our greatest challenges, including climate change and preservation of ecosystems around the world,” they stated.

Annabella Rosciglione
Annabella Rosciglione
Breaking News Reporter. Annabella is a graduate of UW-Madison where she worked at the Daily Cardinal reporting on Wisconsin politics.

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