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ATLANTA – May 17, 2024 With the 2024 expiration of Zoo Atlanta’s giant panda agreement with China, preliminary plans are underway for Lun Lun, Yang Yang, Ya Lun, and Xi Lun to travel to China later this year. Zoo Atlanta has applied for the pandas’ international travel permit, and the bears are expected to travel to China sometime in the fourth quarter of 2024. No more specific information on timing of the pandas’ travels is available at this time; timing will be identified collaboratively with official partners in China.  

Zoo Atlanta previously communicated in November 2023 that its giant panda agreement was set to expire in late 2024 and that all four giant pandas were expected to travel to China sometime in the latter part of the year. 

As the process for sending giant pandas to China is extensive and requires months of planning, Zoo Atlanta expects to be able to share significant advance notice of the pandas’ departure with friends and fans and, at a future date, will announce specific timing as it relates to a final opportunity for guests to visit Lun Lun, Yang Yang, Ya Lun, and Xi Lun in Atlanta.  

While Zoo Atlanta remains committed to the stewardship and long-term conservation of the species, no discussions have yet taken place with partners in China as to the future of the Zoo’s giant panda program following the expiration of Zoo Atlanta’s current agreement.  

In commemoration of the legacy of the giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta, which has its 25-year milestone in 2024, Zoo Atlanta is planning a Summer of Celebration, with a kickoff event to be hosted on Saturday, June 1, 2024. Activities will include dynamic cultural performances and educational activities from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Activities are free for Zoo Atlanta Members; free with general admission.  

Dating to the mid-1990s, even prior to the arrival of Lun Lun and Yang Yang in 1999, Zoo Atlanta’s partnership with colleagues in China has a longtime history of collaboration and information sharing that has benefited the care, study, and conservation of giant pandas.  

Since the inception of its giant panda program, Zoo Atlanta has contributed over $17 million in support of the conservation of wild giant pandas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated the giant panda’s status from Endangered to Vulnerable in 2016; however, fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are believed to remain in the wild in China, with the majority living on nature reserves. Habitat loss and habitat fragmentation remain the primary threat to wild giant pandas. Conservation support from Zoo Atlanta has benefited pandas living on nature reserves, aiding in reforestation efforts; reserve management and ranger support; and genetic diversity studies.  

In addition to conservation support and contributions to the global body of scientific knowledge of giant pandas and their biology and behavior, the Zoo Atlanta panda program has been notably successful in terms of future contributions to the population of the species. Seven giant pandas have been born at the Zoo since 2006, including two successful pairs of twins. Offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang include Mei Lan (born 2006); Xi Lan (born 2008); Po (born 2010); twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan (born 2013); and twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun (born 2016). Mei Lan, Xi Lan, Po, Mei Lun, and Mei Huan already reside at the Chengdu Research Center of Giant Panda Breeding in China and have since all become parents themselves.  

Learn more and access panda program FAQs here.

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