Happy 5th birthday, Ya Lun and Xi Lun!
Giant panda twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun turned 5 on September 3, 2021. The Panda Care Team celebrated early this year, filling the twins’ dayroom habitat in Zoo Atlanta’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Conservation Center with birthday surprises on September 1. Special enrichment included ice “cakes” topped with banana slices, birthday boxes filled with leafeater biscuits, and a birthday banner. Footage of the festivities aired on September 3 on Zoo Atlanta Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so that the celebration could be shared by the twins’ many friends and supporters around the U.S. and around the world.
Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Of these, more than 1,200 live inside nature reserves, and eight of these reserves have been supported by Zoo Atlanta. Although the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated the species’ status from Endangered to Vulnerable in 2016, giant pandas remain heavily reliant on conservation programs. Their threats include habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities. Zoo Atlanta has contributed well over $16 million in support of wild giant pandas in China and has provided support for reforestation projects, conservation education programs, giant panda nurseries, and field research programs and supplies.