It's Official: Pandas Are Returning to The San Diego Zoo -

It’s Official: Pandas Are Returning to The San Diego Zoo

It’s official — China will send a pair of new giant pandas back to the San Diego Zoo sometime this year.

The China Wildlife Conservation Association has reportedly inked deals with both the San Diego Zoo and the Madrid Zoo on “a new round of international cooperation for giant panda conservation.” As NBC News points out, pandas returning to U.S. zoos marks a new era of cooperation in so-called “panda diplomacy.”

Last year, a deterioration in the relationship between China and the U.S. left the latter superpower with basically no pandas — leaving many people wondering what ever happened to the San Diego Zoo pandas. The San Diego Zoo has not had any pandas since 2019.

“We are humbled by the potential opportunity of continuing our collaborative conservation efforts to secure the future for giant pandas,” said Megan Owen, vice president of conservation at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, in a news release on Thursday.

One of the female pandas returning to the San Diego Zoo could be even be a descendant of Bai Yun and Gao Gao — the two former pandas who resided at the zoo. The pandas could return to the San Diego Zoo as early as this summer.

The history of pandas being used as diplomatic tools extends back to the 1970s. In fact, the first pandas arrived in the U.S. after President Richard Nixon made intentional efforts to improve the relationship between the U.S. and China.

Since then, pandas have been a sign of friendship and peace between China and other countries. Although the loan agreements to host pandas cost roughly $1 million a year per pair, China uses the money to fund conservation research.

There are an estimated 1,800 pandas living in the wild today, with an additional 600 in captivity — making them one of the rarer animals you’ll soon be able to see at the San Diego Zoo or the Safari Park.

Want to make a trip once pandas return to the San Diego Zoo? Check out the ultimate guide to the San Diego Zoo.

Media credit: Image licensed from Adobe