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China to send giant pandas back to the United States Radio Free Asia

China to send giant pandas back to the United States Radio Free Asia

 


In line with a pledge made by Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco last year, China will once again send giant pandas to the United States, with two expected at the San Diego Zoo this summer and talks underway to send more to the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

Giant pandas, which Xi called envoys of friendship during a speech at a dinner with U.S. business leaders in San Francisco in November, will be sent overseas as part of a series of deals struck by the China Wildlife Conservation Association with global zoos.

Spain's Madrid Zoo is expected to receive new panda diplomats as part of the first wave of envoys, while Schnbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, is also in talks to receive pandas, the spokesperson said on Thursday of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mao Ning, to journalists during a press briefing.

We hope that the new round of international cooperation on giant panda conservation between China and relevant countries will further enrich scientific research on the protection of the giant panda and other endangered species, and forge closer ties between our people, Mao said, calling pandas China's national treasure.

Currently in the United States, giant pandas can only be found at the Atlanta Zoo in Georgia, which has four. Other pandas from Washington, D.C., San Diego and Memphis, Tennessee, have all returned to China in recent years.

Envoys of friendship

China first sent pandas to the United States in the 1970s, with the national zoo being a beneficiary, in the context of the normalization of relations between Washington and Beijing, at the height of the Cold War, and at the continuation of the The Sino-Soviet split in the communist world.

However, the National Zoo returned his last three giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Xiao Qi Ji in Chengdu, China, via a special FedEx flight on Nov. 8 after a 50-year-old agreement expired last year.

Speaking to U.S. business leaders in San Francisco on Nov. 16, Xi received the biggest applause of the evening when he called pandas ambassadors of friendship between the Chinese and American people and is committed to sending more across the Pacific.

He said it was sad that pandas from national zoos had returned.

I was told that many Americans, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and were going to the zoo to greet them, Xi said, adding that he also knew that Californians were eager to welcome pandas back to San Francisco. Diego Zoo.

We are ready to continue our cooperation with the United States in the field of panda conservation, he said, and do our best to respond to the wishes of Californians to deepen the friendly ties between our peoples. .

John Kirby, a spokesman for U.S. President Joe Biden's National Security Council, the next day called China's recall of the pandas a sovereign decision but said they would be welcomed back.

Certainly, if the PRC decided to return some pandas to the United States, we would just be happy to welcome them back, Kirby said, referring to the People's Republic of China.

And these little ones

The San Diego Zoo said in a statement that it was excited about the opportunity to keep giant pandas again, adding that the zoo's past experience with pandas had played a significant role in China's efforts to bring back the iconic and beloved giant panda from the brink of extinction. .

The giant pandas sent to San Diego are expected to be the cubs of pandas that were previously kept at the zoo but were sent back to China.

“We are honored by the potential opportunity to continue our collaborative conservation efforts to secure the future of giant pandas,” said Megan Owen, vice president of conservation science at the zoo, adding that zookeepers were working to accelerate their arrival.

The pandas in our care and those of our Chinese colleagues in conservation centers play an important role as a safeguard against extinction and loss of genetic diversity in their native habitats, as well as as a population source for reintroductions, she said.

Despite the goodwill surrounding the return of giant pandas, panda diplomacy has not been without its own dramas.

The return of the Memphis pandas in April last year coincided with false allegations some Chinese netizens claimed their zookeepers mistreated them after one of the pandas died in captivity.

Edited by Malcolm Foster.

Sources

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