Washington’s National Zoo recently hosted a special event, “Panda Palooza,” to honor its three beloved giant pandas before they are returned to China. Despite the stormy weather caused by Tropical Storm Ophelia and the looming threat of a government shutdown, enthusiastic visitors flocked to the zoo for a final glimpse of these iconic animals.
Although the torrential rain forced the zoo to cancel some outdoor events, dedicated panda enthusiasts from across the United States persevered, gathering around the panda enclosure to observe Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their cub Xiao Qi Ji. The trio is scheduled to be returned to China in early December.
The zoo has organized a series of panda-themed activities, including film screenings, concerts, lectures, yoga sessions, and arts and craft activities that will take place over the next nine days. Additionally, the Chinese Embassy in Washington will provide visitors with tasty celebratory treats. However, these festivities may be cut short if Congress fails to secure funding for the upcoming fiscal year, commencing on October 1.
If a government shutdown occurs, the zoo, which relies on federal funding, will be closed to the public. While animal care will not be affected, the popular live “Panda Cam” will temporarily go dark. The uncertain situation surrounding the shutdown adds an element of suspense to the remaining days of the panda celebration.
The National Zoo’s giant panda program has been a point of interest since 1972, when two pandas were donated to the United States by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai following President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived at the zoo in 2000 under a cooperative research and breeding agreement between the Smithsonian Institute and the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
While the zoo has not announced immediate plans to acquire more giant pandas, it expressed its hope to continue this important work in the future. The legacy of these pandas as animal ambassadors will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on both visitors and researchers alike.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. When will the giant pandas be returned to China?
The giant pandas at Washington’s National Zoo are scheduled to be returned to China in early December.
2. Will the potential government shutdown affect the care of the pandas?
No, the potential government shutdown will not disrupt animal care at the National Zoo.
3. What happens to the “Panda Cam” during a government shutdown?
If a government shutdown occurs, the popular live “Panda Cam” will temporarily go dark.
4. Is the zoo planning to acquire more giant pandas in the future?
While the zoo has not announced immediate plans to acquire more giant pandas, it hopes to continue its important work with these animals in the future.