Bittersweet: All 3 giant pandas to leave DC

By ZHAO HUANXIN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-08-22 09:12
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Visitors watch giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji enjoying an ice cake at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington DC, the United States, on Aug 21, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

But in about three months, the zoo will experience another break when there is not one giant panda. The last time there was a hiatus lasted for about a year since late 1999, with the death of Hsing Hsing, one of the first pair of pandas who arrived at the zoo on April 20, 1972, following then-US president Richard Nixon's historic visit to China, according to Smith.

In 2000, China and the US signed a Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement for the second pair of giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, to stay at the zoo for a decade since Dec 6 that year.

The loan pact was renewed twice, each time for a five-year extension until Dec 7, 2020. It was then extended for another three years until December this year.

"We're already having some conversations about what the future of the panda program is going to look like. But I don't have any answers," Smith said.

In an interview last August, Smith said that the zoo expected the conversations and negotiations with Chinese partners to lead to the same agreement as previously inked.

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