San Diego Zoo welcomes new pair of giant pandas from China

Two giant pandas have safely arrived in San Diego from China as part of the ongoing conservation partnership, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said Friday.

The organization said the pandas, named Yun Chuan and Xin Bao, will spend the next couple of weeks in a private habitat at the San Diego Zoo to acclimate to their new surroundings and won’t be on view to the public during that time.

“They’re being monitored closely by expert wildlife health and care teams who will determine when the pair are ready to meet the public,” the organization said.

The alliance said it looks forward to sharing more information, including a date about when they can be viewed, as soon as they can.

The Associated Press noted that a farewell ceremony was held earlier this week before the pandas departed China.

Yun Chuan, a 5-year-old male, has connections to California — his mother was born in the San Diego Zoo in 2007, the AP said.

Xin Bao is almost 4 years old and female. She’s described as “gentle and witty.”

The pandas are part of the “panda diplomacy” program between Washington and Beijing.

The San Francisco Zoo announced in April it was going to receive a pair of pandas. Agreements have also been signed to bring pandas to Madrid, while discussions are still ongoing about a potential partnership with Vienna. There has also been talk about returning pandas to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Three giant pandas previously at the D.C. zoo were sent back to China last November after their 20-year stay in the U.S. expired.

The expiration of the agreement was seen as a potential point of contention between the U.S. and China, which have been involved in panda diplomacy since former President Nixon struck the deal in 1972.

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