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Unbearable: US to say goodbye to its last remaining Chinese pandas — for now

America’s panda-monium is coming to an finish.

The last big pandas within the US will head again to China later this 12 months, greater than 20 years after capturing hearts in Atlanta and past.

Zoo Atlanta is preparing to return beloved pandas Lun Lun and Yang Yang and their twin offspring, Ya Lun and Xi Lun, to China earlier than the tip of the 12 months.

The 4 black and white bears have been the one pandas within the US since three from the National Zoo in Washington, DC, have been despatched again to their homeland in November after residing there for 10 years.

Lun Lun and Yang Yang arrived in Atlanta in 1999 by way of a 25-year contract that expires late this year. Ya Lun and Xi Lun have been born on the zoo in 2016.

A panda bear splayed on his back chews on a stick.
Zoo Atlanta’s big panda bear settlement with China expires in late 2024. AP

“The terms of Zoo Atlanta’s giant panda loan with China have always included the stipulation that per the terms of the loan agreement, all offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang travel to China when they are of age,” the zoo mentioned in an announcement in November.

“All five of Ya Lun’s and Xi Lun’s older siblings have done so and now live in China.”

China loans pandas overseas as a gesture of goodwill however retains possession of them and their cubs.

As tensions have mounted between the 2 nations, US zoos have despatched their pandas again to China as mortgage agreements have lapsed.

Memphis Zoo returned its last surviving panda in April 2023, whereas San Diego Zoo returned its bears in 2019.

Fingers crossed it received’t be too lengthy till the US welcomes new pandas. San Diego Zoo mentioned last month it might bring a pair of pandas — Yun Chuan and Xin Bao — over this 12 months, hopefully over summer season, the primary to arrive within the nation in a long time.

A panda bear lays on his stomach looking at the camera.
Lun Lun and Yang Yang and their twin offspring, Ya Lun and Xi Lun, have been the one pandas within the US since November. AP

San Francisco Zoo is planning to deliver some over, too, after Mayor London Breed traveled to China last month in what California Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones derided as a “pursuit of pandas” whereas the town “grapples with escalating crime and homelessness.”

Billionaire New York City grocery store mogul John Catsimatidis mentioned last 12 months he’s working to persuade China to mortgage some pandas to the Central Park Zoo.

In the meantime, for those that can’t see the pandas earlier than they depart Atlanta Zoo, they are often seen frolicking on the parks live Panda Cam.

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