The Smithsonian National Zoo is about to celebrate 50 years of panda!
Wednesday is National Panda Day and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. is about to host a six-month celebration. The Zoo has been caring for giant pandas for over fifty years and they are using the next sixth months to hold a celebration for panda lovers both at the zoo and online!
Smithsonian National Zoo Is Celebrating National Panda Day In The Best Way Possible
National Panda Day make just be one day, but the Smithsonian is carrying the celebrating all the way through August 27 with a series of online and in-person events to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of their giant panda program.
Some of these events include a Giant Panda Family Tree Photo Gallery that will debut on Wednesday. The Smithsonian Channel will also release a documentary called “The Miracle Club” while celebrating their “Pandaversary” on April 16 and 17.
More activities can be found on the zoo’s website.
The celebration will not only be contained to the zoo. Businesses in Cleveland and the Woodley Park area will be offering “Panda Specials” that include both panda-themed treats to discounts on merchandise and food until May 15. There will be Giant Panda 50th Anniversary decals located in the windows and doors of participating shops to help consumers easily identify who is taking part in the promotions.
The Smithsonian National Zoo Highlights The Importance Of Panda Conservation
In a statement, Brandie Smith, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said, “After 50 years, giant pandas remain an iconic species for our zoo. More importantly, they represent how great conservation outcomes can be achieved through great partnerships with our Chinese colleagues.”
Conservationists in both the United States and China have been working together for more than five decades to help understand giant panda biology, behavior, reproduction, health and habitat, and how to save the beloved species from extinction. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, giant pandas are currently listed as a “vulnerable” species, with only about 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild.
Pamela Baker-Masson, a spokesperson for the National Zoo, explained that pandas were not thriving in China fifty years ago. “Together with our colleagues, we’ve mastered some of the critical things that have brought them back from the brink of extinction, like biology and reproduction, and we understand their habitats so much better,” she added.
The Zoo Has A Breeding Agreement With The China Wildlife Conservation Association
The Smithsonian National Zoo has struck a deal with the China Wildlife Conservation Association three separate times since 2000 in order to continue their giant panda research. These deals also include a breeding agreement to help boost the panda population. The current deal, which was extended in 2020, allows giant pandas to continue to be housed at the National Zoo. In exchange, the Smithsonian provides funding and research to help conservation efforts in China.
Baker-Masson added that “When people, no matter your nationality, look at giant pandas, what they care about is this incredibly charismatic animal. They care about the animal; they care about its environment; they care about all the other animals that live in that environment as well.”
“I think it’s remarkable that our scientists here in the United States and in China, globally, have worked together, politics aside, and really strive to do something that was significant and important for our world,” she added.
How Many Pandas Are Currently Located At The Zoo?
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The Smithsonian National Zoo currently holds three pandas. The male panda, Tian Tian, is 24. The female, Mei Xiang, is 23. Together, they have an 18-month old male cub named Xiao Qi Ji.
The pandas first arrived at the zoo in 1972 after then-President Richard Nixon visited China. They were given to the American people by the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai as a gesture of goodwill between the two countries.
The zoo will be hosting online birthday parties for each of its pandas. Fans can tune into the Panda Cam on their respective birthdays to watch their favorite pandas celebrating with a special ice cake. Mei Xiang’s birthday is on Friday, July 22. Xiao Qi Ji’s birthday is on Sunday, August 21. Tian Tian’s birthday is on Saturday, August 27.
Panda lovers from around the world can tune in virtually to watch each panda celebrate their special day!