Panda Diplomacy Would possibly Not Be Lifeless Simply But

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The fur balls is likely to be coming again to Washington and San Diego.

Xi Jinping, China’s chief, stated in a speech on Wednesday night time that his nation’s finest diplomats, large pandas, may quickly return to zoos in the US which have just lately despatched bears again to their homeland.

Mr. Xi identified that the pandas are “envoys of friendship between the Chinese language and American peoples.”

Panda-monium gripped the US final week when the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo in Washington despatched its two getting older grownup pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji, or “Little Miracle,” again to China on a 19-hour FedEx flight, the Panda Categorical.

Police escorts rode alongside the crate-laden vehicles to Dulles Worldwide Airport, with all of the pomp of a presidential convoy zipping round Washington.

The bears have been accompanied on the flight by 220 kilos of bamboo, a veterinarian and two zookeepers.

Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived in Washington in 2000, after the deaths of two pandas given to the zoo as a present in April 1972 following the historic go to of President Richard M. Nixon and his spouse, Patricia, to Beijing. (Over dinner, Mrs. Nixon instructed China’s premier, Zhou Enlai, how a lot she beloved pandas.)

The zoo initially paid $1 million per 12 months to host Mei Xiang and Tian Tian however renegotiated that to $500,000 per 12 months after the primary decade.

“I used to be instructed that many American folks, particularly youngsters, have been actually reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas, and went to the zoo to see them off,” Mr. Xi stated on Wednesday.

On the Nationwide Zoo, the large panda enclosures within the Asia Path space now sit empty, and plenty of guests go as an alternative to see the neighboring pink pandas, small fuzzy creatures that resemble raccoons. The enormous pandas are a kind of bear.

The San Diego Zoo despatched its two pandas again in 2019, and the Memphis Zoo despatched a panda again this April. Mr. Xi stated he had discovered that the San Diego Zoo and residents of California “very a lot look ahead to welcoming pandas again.”

Zoo Atlanta now has the one large pandas in the US — dad and mom and twin cubs — however they’re anticipated to return to China subsequent 12 months.

These zoos are the 4 establishments in the US which have persistently hosted pandas over the a long time. Every negotiates contracts with one in all two conservation teams in China. The pandas primarily come from the Wolong Nationwide Nature Reserve within the misty mountains of Sichuan Province, the place about 150 pandas dwell, chewing on bamboo for a dozen or extra hours a day.

Given the rising tensions between the US and China lately, many People have puzzled whether or not geopolitics has spurred Chinese language officers to ask for the pandas again. However Nationwide Zoo officers and scientists stated every of their three pandas was at an age when the bears must be returning.

Officers on the Nationwide Zoo stated in interviews earlier than the departure on Nov. 8 that they deliberate to begin talks quickly to attempt to get their Chinese language companion to ship pandas again to the zoo. However the officers stated they’d no intention of asking Mr. Biden or the State Division to weigh in with China. A zoo spokeswoman stated they’d no touch upon Mr. Xi’s remarks.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting from San Francisco.

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