Apr 19, 2024 - News

San Francisco will get its own giant pandas, mayor announces

Photo of three pandas holding on to each other

Giant pandas rest at Chongqing Zoo in Chongqing, China, on April 13. Photo: CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Mayor London Breed announced Friday that the San Francisco Zoo will receive giant pandas from China, the first time the city will host an official residency for the animals.

Why it matters: Giant pandas have stayed in San Francisco for only brief visits at a time. The last time was in 1985.

  • Breed, who is finishing up a weeklong trip to China to bolster economic ties, has long advocated for giant pandas to come to the city, saying the gesture would honor San Francisco's Chinese heritage as well as the larger Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Their presence would likely boost tourism as well.

The latest: Breed signed an official lease agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) Friday as part of China's Panda Diplomacy program, according to a press release from her office.

  • It's so far unclear how many giant pandas will be sent to the city or when they will arrive.
  • That timeline will be set by the completion of a panda enclosure at the zoo, which is underway in collaboration with engineers from the Beijing Zoo.
  • In a post on X, Breed thanked the CWCA as well as the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China (NFGA), local Asian American advocates, and the city's zoo for making the partnership possible.
  • The NFGA and the CWCA will send a delegation from Beijing to San Francisco in May to work out the next steps.

Zoom out: The U.S. is currently home to four giant pandas — all at Zoo Atlanta in Georgia.

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