Washington, DC

Giant panda program at the National Zoo is celebrating its 50th anniversary

B.R. Shenoy

The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its giant panda conservation program.

Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, two giant pandas from China, arrived at the National Zoo on April 16, 1972. Since then, Washingtonians have enjoyed seeing the Zoo's panda family thrive.

While the pair mated multiple times and had five cubs, none lived more than a few days. Ling-Ling died in 1992, and Hsing-Hsing died in 1999.

The next panda pair in D.C., Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, gave birth to the first surviving cubs in D.C.

Panda Conservation

For the last five decades, the Zoo has cared for these endearing bears by establishing and maintaining one of the world's leading panda conservation programs. Collaboration between Chinese colleagues and the Zoo's team of animal care personnel, scientists, and researchers has been critical to these efforts.

These conservationists have made substantial contributions to worldwide knowledge of giant panda biology, behavior, reproduction, health, and habitat by working together. Joint training initiatives for the next generation of experienced research and animal care workers ensure that giant pandas flourish in human care and the wild for future generations.

Thanks to a collaborative effort to produce and share knowledge in China and zoos throughout the world, this species is being saved from extinction.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has reclassified giant pandas as "vulnerable" instead of “endangered.” There are around 1,800 of them in the wild.

”Pandaversary” Celebration

Since March 16, which was National Panda Day, the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute has begun a six-month-long celebration for their in-residence giant panda family.

From March 16 through August 27, the Zoo will host online and on-site events to commemorate the giant panda program's 50th anniversary.

The National Zoo is having a "pandaversary" celebration on April 16 and 17 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of giant pandas arriving in Washington, D.C. Dance performances, scientific discussions, screenings of a new panda documentary, and snacks for Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Xiao Qi Ji are all planned for the celebration.

If you want to visit pandas in person, go to the National Zoo before December 2023. All three pandas will leave Washington, D.C. at that time, with no plans to send others.

The Giant Panda Cam allows panda fans to regularly watch what 24-year-old male Tian Tian, 23-year-old female Mei Xiang, and their 18-month-old male cub Xiao Qi Ji are up to.

What are your thoughts on these adorable panda bears? Please share in the comments.

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