Giant panda trio return to Chengdu from Washington

By LI HONGYANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-11-11 08:18
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(From left) Xiao Qi Ji, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang [Photo provided to China Daily]

Giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their male cub Xiao Qi Ji, who had been residing in the United States for several years, arrived at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Sichuan province late on Thursday.

Accompanied by Chinese veterinarians and caregivers, they were taken to the Shenshuping Base in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan, about 130 kilometers from Chengdu, for quarantine procedures.

In 2000, female Mei Xiang and male Tian Tian were leased to the US, staying since then at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, DC. In 2020, the pair gave birth to Xiao Qi Ji, which means "little miracle" in Chinese.

During their stay in the US, the furry trio received professional care and attention from zoo staff members, helping establish fruitful cooperation between the two sides.

According to the cooperation agreement between China and the US, Mei Xiang and her family have returned to China as scheduled, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration said.

After the departure of the three pandas, there are still four others remaining in the US, currently residing at Atlanta Zoo.

Since China and the US began to cooperate on giant panda conservation in 1996, achievements have been made in areas such as breeding, disease prevention, technical exchanges and public education, the administration said.

To ensure a safe and smooth return of the giant panda family, experienced Chinese experts went to the US six months in advance to assist with caregiving and familiarize themselves with the family's habits and conditions.

They worked together with US experts on behavioral training, daily checkups and health assessments.

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