There are currently only four giant pandas in the entire United States, and Zoo Atlanta has all of them. Our beloved black and white fuzzy friends, Lun Lun, Yang Yang, Ya Lun and Xi Lun, have become a staple and massive attraction of Zoo Atlanta. They’ll be here until early 2024, so you’ve gotta head to see them before it’s too late.
Why do we have giant pandas in the first place?
China first began lending pandas to the United States in the early 1970s, as part of a research project. In the 50 years of the panda-exchange program, pandas were actually taken off of the list of endangered species. The species have been upgraded from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ in just a span of five decades.
Several United States zoos had the giant fuzzy creatures, and they’ve always been a fan favorite. Having pandas at the zoo does wonders for both community engagement and conservation and preservation of the species.
What’s happening now?
In the original agreement, it was decided that all offspring of the original pandas would be sent back to China when they were of age, which meant Zoo Atlanta new it would be losing Ya Lun and Xi Lun at the end of the year. But with no talks to renew the panda loan program, it appears Lun Lun and Yang Yang will have to return as well.
With the recent news of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. sending its pandas back to China, Atlanta is now currently the only zoo in the entire US to house the giants.
When will our beloved gentle giants depart?
Zoo Atlanta says that no real discussions have taken place with their partners in China, but that the loan program ends at the end of the year. This means that even though Zoo Atlanta is “committed to the long-term stewardship of giant pandas and to the continuation of its valued partnership with the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens” the giant pandas will probably return to China in early 2024.
We’ll miss you, Lun Lun, Yang Yang, Ya Lun and Xi Lun.