The San Diego Zoo's Long-Term Conservation Loan Agreement with China has come to a close. This means Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu will be headed to China sometime this spring as a new phase of panda conservation is set to begin.
For the past 25 year, the San Diego Zoo has been part of an international effort to prevent panda extinction that has met it's conservation goals. The news of this program ending is therefore heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. It's incredibly impressive that the program has been such as success, especially in San Diego with our rock star Bai Yun as the helm. But, it's going to be sad and strange for the San Diego Zoo to not have any pandas, even if it's only for a short time. I'm also super bummed I won't have a chance to see them in person again before they head back to China but I am honored to say I was a part of such a successful conservation effort!
Gao Gao was the most recent panda to head back to China. He has been living it up at a panda retirement home while his offspring have been pumping out more little pandas as part of an ongoing breeding program. Now Mama and baby brother will be joining them in their native land.
Plans for the next phase haven't been revealed yet and when I asked for the inside scoop they just replied "stay tuned."
Check out all my panda posts. I love those pandas!