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FAQs: Giant Panda Program at Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta’s giant panda agreement with China and panda travels to China

When in 2024 will the pandas travel to China?
All four giant pandas are expected to travel to China sometime in the fourth quarter of 2024. We do not yet have any more specific details on the timing of panda travels in 2024. Zoo Atlanta has submitted an application for the pandas’ international travel permit; timing will be identified collaboratively with our official partners in China. We will be communicating broadly once more information is available.

Does this mean the pandas will be traveling to China sooner than expected?
No. Zoo Atlanta previously communicated, most recently in November 2023, that its giant panda agreement with China would expire in late 2024, and that all four giant pandas would travel to China sometime in 2024. There has since been no amendment, acceleration, change of plans, or otherwise change to what has always been known to be fact in terms of the Zoo’s panda agreement.

Will Zoo Atlanta be communicating a final date to see the pandas?
Yes. We expect to have significant advance notice to share and will communicate a final date for visiting the pandas in Atlanta.

Why will the pandas travel to China?
Zoo Atlanta does not own the pandas; they have always resided in Atlanta as part of an agreement with China. We have merely been fortunate enough to be their stewards and introduce so many people here in the U.S. to this species.

Zoo Atlanta’s agreement with China is for Lun Lun and Yang Yang; additionally, these terms have always stipulated that offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang travel to China when they are of age. Five of these Atlanta-born offspring already live in China.

When does Zoo Atlanta’s agreement with China expire?
Zoo Atlanta’s agreement with China expires in late 2024.

Will all four pandas travel to China?
Yes.

What happens after the agreement expires in 2024?
No discussions have yet taken place with our partners in China as to the status of our giant panda program beyond the end of our current agreement. However, Zoo Atlanta remains committed to the long-term stewardship and conservation of giant pandas and to continued partnership with our colleagues in China.

Is Zoo Atlanta planning any special programs, celebrations, or opportunities in association with the giant pandas’ travels in 2024?
Of course! In commemoration of the 2024 milestone of the 25th year of giant pandas at Zoo Atlanta, we are highlighting this incredible legacy with a Summer of Celebration, kicking off on Saturday, June 1. Visit zooatlanta.org for details.

There will be many other opportunities for the City of Atlanta and the giant pandas’ many friends and fans worldwide to celebrate the pandas prior to their departure from both near and far; stay tuned for more information.

Is the June 1 event a farewell event?
Not at all. The June 1 event represents our Summer of Celebration kickoff, which will celebrate the legacy of 25 years of pandas at Zoo Atlanta; visit zooatlanta.org for more information.

Visiting the giant pandas

How many pandas are there at Zoo Atlanta? What are their names?
The four giant pandas at Zoo Atlanta are adult female Lun Lun (pronounced loon loon – born August 25, 1997 at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China); adult male Yang Yang (pronounced yahng yahng – born September 9, 1997 at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China); adult female Ya Lun (pronounced yah loon – born September 3, 2016 at Zoo Atlanta); and adult female Xi Lun (pronounced shee loon – born September 3, 2016 at Zoo Atlanta).

Lun Lun’s and Yang Yang’s first five offspring live at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. These are male Mei Lan (born 2006); male Xi Lan (born 2008); female Po (born 2010 and now known as A Bao); and females Mei Lun and Mei Huan (born 2013).

How does Zoo Atlanta contribute to giant panda conservation?
Giant pandas represent Zoo Atlanta’s most significant long-term investment in wildlife conservation, with more than $17 million contributed in support of wild giant pandas. Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Of these, more than 1,200 reside inside nature reserves. Conservation support from Zoo Atlanta has supported eight of these reserves, benefiting reforestation projects, supporting park rangers, and more.

In addition to this conservation impact, over the past 25 years, Zoo Atlanta and colleagues have enhanced the world’s body of knowledge of the care, biology, and behavior of this species. Zoo Atlanta remains committed to continuing to make an impact on the future for giant pandas.

Will Lun Lun have any more cubs?
No. In 2018, Zoo Atlanta announced that with the approval of our partners in China, given Lun Lun’s age, we would be pursuing no further reproductive programs with Lun Lun and Yang Yang.

Where and when can I visit the pandas?
The pandas are located in the Zoo’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center complex. This area includes both outdoor habitats and indoor dayroom habitats. At cooler times of year, pandas may be seen in outdoor habitats; in warmer seasons, they are likely to be seen in the indoor dayroom habitats. They may sometimes be seen in both the indoor and the outdoor habitats; regardless, they may be seen daily year-round.

I am aware that the pandas will travel to China in 2024 and am planning a trip to Zoo Atlanta. Will the pandas be there when I visit?
As addressed elsewhere here in the FAQs, at this time, while the pandas are expected to travel to China sometime in the fourth quarter of 2024, we do not yet have more specific details on the timing of their travels within that timeframe. We will be communicating broadly once more information is available. We can never guarantee that visitors will see any particular species.

I am not able to visit Zoo Atlanta. What should I do?
Watch the giant pandas from anywhere in the world on PandaCam. Be sure to plan to tune in to our social networks for special content from the Panda Care Team. And stay tuned for more details as we want to include all of our panda fans, near and far!

PandaCam and giant panda care at Zoo Atlanta

PandaCam is down. Does this mean something is wrong?
No. PandaCam is an internet technology and, like all other technologies, may experience the occasional temporary glitch or may be affected by an event such as a power outage. This does not mean something is wrong with the pandas. We have a team who checks PandaCam regularly to ensure its visibility and functionality and who will work quickly to correct any temporary outages.

Why don’t the pandas live together?
Giant pandas are a solitary species, meaning they do not require nor generally seek out the company of others of the same species. Giant pandas spend time with others only as youngsters or during interactions related to breeding season. As they grow older, it is natural for them to begin displaying solitary behaviors; this is very normal for giant pandas and other bear species. As pandas are solitary in the wild, they are housed solitarily here at Zoo Atlanta as well.

Why don’t I see a particular individual?
The giant panda care complex includes two outdoor habitats, two indoor dayroom habitats, one behind-the-scenes outdoor habitat which is not visible to guests, and indoor dens inside the building. The Panda Care Team rotates the time spent by the bears among various of these spaces. If you don’t see a particular individual, he or she may be in one of the interior dens inside the building.

Why don’t the keepers go in with the pandas?
Giant pandas are powerful bears and are treated with the respect owed to wild animals. As is the case with sun bears, tigers, lions, gorillas, orangutans, elephants, rhinos, and many other species at Zoo Atlanta, the care teams do not share the same space with the animals. The Panda Care Team is able to interact closely and form important trusting relationships with the pandas with a safety barrier in place.

Why do the pandas seem to sleep so much?
Giant pandas are unusual in many ways, one of which being that they do not have a set sleeping pattern as many other species, most of which fall into the category of diurnal, nocturnal, or crepuscular, do. This means that they may be seen sleeping at many different times during the day; this is normal.