Cuddly Pandas

There are only a few around the world, but doesn’t everyone enjoy the panda? 

We had the opportunity to see them at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. recently. 

According to the National Zoo in Washington the giant pandas are native to central China and represent the vulnerable species.  “As few as 1,864 giant pandas live in their native habitat, while another 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world.”

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is a leader in giant panda conservation. Ever since these charismatic bears arrived at the zoo in 1972 (National Zoo), animal care staff and scientists have studied giant panda biology, behavior, breeding, reproduction and disease. These experts are also leading ecology studies in giant pandas’ native habitat. The Zoo’s giant panda team works closely with colleagues in China to advance conservation efforts around the world. (National Zoo)

The current giant pandas belong to China.  Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived at the National Zoo on Dec. 6, 2000.  Unlike Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing before them, they are on loan. In exchange, the zoo contributes funds and expertise toward conservation efforts in China.

The zoo reached an agreement with the Chinese government stipulating the pair could live at the zoo for 10 years in exchange for $10 million. On Jan. 20, 2011, Zoo Director Dennis Kelly and Secretary General of the China Wildlife Conservation Association Zang Chunlin, signed a new Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement, which stipulated giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian would remain at the Zoo until December 2015. 

Apparently there are ongoing negotiations concerning how long the pandas remain at the National Zoo.  Currently, they are scheduled to live there through 2020. 

The National Zoo website provides excellent information at  You can see live videos of the pandas and their activities.  Volunteers observe panda activity and habits each day from their control room. 

The three pandas at the National Zoo in Washington are:

Tian Tian is a male born on August 27, 1997, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, to Yong Ba and Pan Pan.  Born to Tian Tian are Bei Bei and Tai Shan (Wikipedia)

Mei Xiang is a female giant panda born on July 22, 1998, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province.  Mei Xiang had six offsprings.  Current offsprings are Bei Bei and Tai Shan.  (Wikipedia)

Bei Bei is a male giant panda cub and is part of US-China relations panda diplomacy.  He will be sent to the People’s Republic of China at the age of 4. He is the brother of both Tai Shan and Bao Bao. (Wikipedia) Bei Bei’s parents are Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

Can you tell the difference between Mei Xiang and Tian Tian?

Also, can a giant panda be considered a giant teddy? 

Blessings along the Way!