Nationwide Zoo’s Large Pandas Fly Residence Amid Uncertainty About Future Panda Exchanges
Large panda Xiao Qi Ji performs at his enclosure on the Smithsonian Nationwide Zoo in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. (AP Picture/Jose Luis Magana)
By Ashraf Khalil
The day that panda lovers have been dreading has lastly come.
The Nationwide Zoo’s three big pandas, Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their cub Xiao Qi Ji. on Wednesday started their lengthy journey to China, forsaking an empty panda exhibit with no certainty that pandas ever would once more take up residence there.
“It’s a second with some heartbreak in it,” stated Nationwide Zoo Director Brandie Smith. “However it’s also a second of pleasure as a result of we’re celebrating the success of the world’s longest working conservation program for a single species.”
The pandas had been loaded into giant white crates away from the general public view. Forklifts took them to ready vehicles — together with a number of bushels of bamboo for street snacks. Their faces have been sometimes seen via a small window in conjunction with the crates. Zoo personnel walked alongside them.
They have been taken to Dulles Worldwide Airport in northern Virginia, the place a specifically outfitted Boeing 777F dubbed the FedEx Panda Categorical was ready. The 19-hour flight to Chengdu, China will embrace a refueling cease in Anchorage, Alaska.
Large panda Tian Tian is transported in a crate to depart the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington en path to Washington Dulles Worldwide Airport, the place he’ll journey aboard the FedEx Panda Categorical to China, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. (AP Picture/Stephanie Scarbrough)
Smith famous that throughout the 50 years of panda exchanges between China and the Nationwide Zoo, big pandas have been faraway from the checklist of endangered species.
She stated she hopes to be again on the airport “someday quickly once more as we rejoice the return of big pandas to Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo.”
However there is not any assure that pandas will return to the zoo. The zoo’s trade settlement with the China Wildlife Conservation Affiliation expires in early December and negotiations to resume or prolong the deal haven’t produced outcomes.
The San Diego Zoo returned its pandas in 2019, and the final bear on the Memphis, Tennessee, zoo went house earlier this 12 months. The departure of the Nationwide Zoo’s bears signifies that the one big pandas left in America are on the Atlanta Zoo — and that mortgage settlement expires late subsequent 12 months.
Smithsonian Nationwide Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute employees members carry bamboo to be transported with big pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Xiao Qi on their journey aboard the Panda Categorical to China, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. (AP Picture/Stephanie Scarbrough)
Chinese language Embassy consultant Xu Xueyuan praised the advantages of the China’s a number of panda trade agreements with zoos around the globe. However she provided no hints on whether or not this system with American zoos will proceed within the brief time period.
“Such collaboration has contributed strongly to the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese language and American peoples,” she stated. “China will proceed to work carefully with cooperation companions, together with america, on the conservation and analysis of endangered species and biodiversity safety.”