A look back on Columbus' panda-monium
Flashback: The Columbus Zoo experienced its own panda-monium in 1992, when it housed pandas for nearly four months as part of the city's celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' first voyage to America.
- Qin Qin and Xing Xing, two young males, drew nearly a million visitors over the summer, The Dispatch reported.
- Their temporary exhibit was where the bonobos currently reside.
What they're saying: "People would come in early and run down to the panda exhibit to be the first in line," Dusty Lombardi, then the zoo's mammal curator, tells Axios.
- "It wasn't just Ohio — they came from everywhere to see these guys."
- Lombardi flew back to the U.S. from China with the bears on a cargo plane and oversaw their care locally.
The intrigue: To train for the occasion, Lombardi spent a week at Smithsonian's National Zoo caring for Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, the giant pandas gifted to the U.S. following President Nixon's visit to China in 1972.
- A D.C. reporter called them "too cute to be true," per the Mansfield News-Journal.
Of note: As part of Columbus' panda transaction, any excess funds generated by their visit had to go toward panda conservation. The zoo used the money to establish a new fund that still supports a variety of animal conservation efforts worldwide.
Go deeper: Celebrity Status: Why pandas captivate us
More Columbus stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.