Feb 23, 2024 - News

National Zoo in talks to bring pandas back to D.C.

Giant Panda Tian Tian rests in its enclosure at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Our long lost Tian Tian. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

China is set to send two new pandas to the San Diego Zoo — so is there hope for D.C.?

Why it matters: This is the first time in two decades that the Chinese government will send new pandas to the U.S. — a promising sign for "panda diplomacy" and the future of the National Zoo's panda program.

What they're saying: "The zoo is in discussions with our Chinese partner, the China Wildlife Conservation Association, to develop a future giant panda program," National Zoo director Brandie Smith tells Axios.

  • "It's always been our intention and hope to have giant pandas at the zoo in the future and continue our research here and conservation work in China," Smith says.

Between the lines: So there's hope! Though the zoo says there are no other updates.

  • In the meantime, the multimillion-dollar panda habitat is getting an upgrade.

Catch up quick: The zoo's beloved pandas jetted off to China last November on their private plane, the Giant Panda Express, earlier than predicted.

  • Everyone was sad, especially a Salt Lake City-based panda influencer who missed the bears by a hair.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected, removing a mention that the U.S. is currently panda-less.

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