Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo Returns Pandas Back to China
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. bid farewell to its beloved giant pandas, Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their three-year-old cub, Xiao Qi Ji, as they left for Chengdu, China, on Nov. 8.
The emotional departure marked the end of a 51-year program that saw the iconic pandas become symbols of the U.S. capital zoo. Under police escort, the pandas, loaded onto shipping crates filled with bamboo, were driven to Dulles International Airport for a 19-hour flight on a FedEx cargo jet to China.
The move, the fourth of its kind for the zoo, came amid strained U.S.-China relations. As the panda compound sits empty, the zoo remains proud of its conservation efforts but acknowledges the absence left by the departure of these cherished pandas. Hopes are high that pandas might return to the zoo with the normalization of relations between the U.S. and China.
Luis Apolo Staff Reporter
1. When did the giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their cub Xiao Qi Ji leave the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, and where were they headed?
2. How long was the flight for the pandas to Chengdu, China, and what mode of transportation was used for their journey?
3. What marked the significance of the pandas' departure, and how long had they been a part of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo?
1. Discuss the role of giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Xiao Qi Ji as symbols of the U.S. capital zoo. How have they impacted the zoo's identity over the years?
2. Explore the significance of the pandas' departure in the context of the 51-year program. What contributions did they make to conservation efforts, and what might their absence mean for the zoo?
3. Considering the hopes for the return of pandas to the zoo with the normalization of U.S.-China relations, discuss the potential cultural and diplomatic significance of such a return.
4. What challenges did the zoo face in relocating the giant pandas to Chengdu, China, considering the strained U.S.-China relations at the time?