DC Zoo gets giant pandas from China.

A new pair of giant pandas, a two-year-old male named Bao Li and a two-year-old female named Qing Bao, will soon call the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC their home. This news, announced with a video on Wednesday, features the participation of First Lady Jill Biden who considered the occasion a “historic moment”. The incoming pandas are the product of a new agreement signed between the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWSA). Under this agreement, Bao Li and Qing Bao will spend a decade at the National Zoo and will be cared for as potential breeding candidates. In return, the zoo will pay a $1 million annual fee to support CWSA’s research and conservation efforts. The ownership of both pandas and any of their offspring remains with China. Any cubs born will be returned to China by the time they reach four years old.

Previously, a family of three pandas were sent back to China in September 2023, following tensions between the two countries. Pandas have been residing at the Washington DC zoo for over five decades, serving as a symbol of friendly relations with China. In 1972, after Richard Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing, China initially gifted a pair of giant pandas to the US. The National Zoo revealed that another announcement will be made when the pandas are ready for public viewing and expects their arrival in the city by the end of this year. Additionally, the San Diego Zoo also announced that they will receive a panda pair. The arrival of these new panda pairs marks China’s renewed use of “soft power” as it and the US work towards rebuilding their relationship, even with disagreements on various economic and political issues.