So-called “Panda Diplomacy” is coming to an end as China has recalled all of its pandas that were on loan in American zoos. The fan-favorite attractions made their way back to China as folks who frequented the many zoos around the country, which called the black and white bear home, were upset at the loss of one the most interesting exhibits around.
Now, the three final pandas in the United States have been taken back to China via airplane and will no longer be on display domestically. Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, housed the three lovable pandas and was also the first zoo in America to have the hilarious giants.
The pandas were transported back home on a Fed-Ex airplane after they were loaded into crates and stuffed aboard the aircraft at Dulles International Airport. These pandas are now finding themselves in an awkward place, stuck between the United States of America and China in a political climate with growing tension.
It may seem strange, but many are saying that this latest move to recall the pandas may very well be part of a larger game that is being played politically by leaders of the two world superpowers. Just recently, The Smithsonian Zoo celebrated 50 years of pandas after the lovable teddy bears were sent from China during the Nixon Administration.
The Smithsonian Zoo explained, “As few as 1,864 giant pandas live in their native habitat, while another 600 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world. For 50 years, the Zoo has celebrated these charismatic bears by creating and maintaining one of the world’s foremost panda conservation programs.”
While the pandas were primarily an attraction to zoo-goers, the biologists on site were also able to take major steps forward in the conservation of the species, the post writes.
The zoo claims to have helped save the species from extinction, writing, “In that time, the Zoo’s team — consisting of dozens of animal care staff, scientists, researchers, international collaborators and conservationists — has made great strides in saving this species from extinction by studying giant panda behavior, health, habitat and reproduction.”
Only time will tell whether these animals will return to the States. The Smithsonian generally renewed its agreement to keep the animals annually, though this year, the zoo was unable to strike any such agreement with the Chinese government.
Whatever that means, it sure is peculiar to see that the Pandas are being used as some sort of international bargaining chip between the two most influential countries on planet Earth.
Director of animal care at the National Zoo, Bob Lee, spoke about whether he expects pandas to be back soon. He noted that the wheels are already turning as he hopes to bring the animals back to American sooner rather than later. He said, “We’re hopeful for the future, so we have submitted an application that’s being reviewed.”
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