Meet the Giant Panda Cub Twins of Zoo Atlanta
There are four zoos in the United States where you can see giant pandas, but only one where you can see twins. That’s Zoo Atlanta, home to Ya Lun and Xi Lun, adorable giant twin pandas born within an hour of one another in September 2016. Indescribably cute, Ya Lun and Xi Lun have been all over the news lately—playing outside for the first time, making their first climbs and even celebrating the Super Bowl.
The cubs are growing and getting bigger every day, so don’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the only panda twins in the U.S. while they’re young.
‘Elegant’ and ‘Happy’
In the language of the pandas’ native China, the name Ya means “elegant” and Xi means “happy.” Both females, their names were chosen by public vote, while their surname “Lun” is an homage to their mother, Lun Lun, a giant panda born in Chengdu, China, living at Zoo Atlanta since 1999.
While they’re referred to as twins, Ya Lun and Xi Lun are actually littermates. Even so, their personalities couldn’t be any more different.
Ya Lun is the wild child of the pair—feistier, more vocal and much more rambunctious. She’s also more social, and is eager to play with others than by herself. Bold and adventurous, Ya Lun takes to climbing, exploring more keenly than her twin sister.
Xi Lun is the calmer, quieter and shyer of the twins. She’s still very playful, but typically waits for her mother or sister to initiate the fun. She’s also more into toys than her sister is, enjoying time by herself.
Partners in Conservation
Ya Lun and Xi Lun are growing. But it wasn’t too long ago that they were adorably cute, hairless newborn baby pandas, barely the size of cellphones.
But did you know that Zoo Atlanta is the proud birthplace of another pair of panda twin cubs? At almost 4 years old, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, born to busy mom Lun Lun, have the distinction of being the first surviving panda cub twins ever born in the U.S. The older pair of panda twins officially moved in November 2016, flying to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, where they have joined Zoo Atlanta’s most successful collaboration in conservation. Three older siblings, Mei Lan, Xi Lan and Po, also reside at the Research Base.
It is estimated that fewer than 1,900 giant pandas exist in the wild, and although the International Union for Conservation of Nature has downgraded the giant panda’s status from “endangered” to “vulnerable,” the conservation of this magnificent species remains a global priority. With over $10 million in contributions from Zoo Atlanta, critical conservation programs in China have included genetic diversity research, reserve management, population monitoring and reforestation projects.
Twin giant pandas are a rare and exceptional phenomenon to be experienced in person. Keep an eye on Zoo Atlanta’s Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram for a stream of inspiring (and precious) photos of and updates on the panda cub twins. Or check out Zoo Atlanta’s PandaCam, hosted by Animal Planet L!VE, which broadcasts the adventures of the cubs as they grow up and get to know the world.