It’s giant panda birthday season!
August and September are birthday months for all four of the giant pandas at Zoo Atlanta. Adult female Lun Lun turned 21 on August 25, and adult male Yang Yang turns 21 on September 9. Their offspring, twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun, turn 2 on September 3, but will be honored at an early-birthday celebration on Friday, August 31.
Ya Lun and Xi Lun will receive birthday surprises – enrichment crafted by their care team, usually including favorite foods from the twins’ diet – at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday at The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center. Times are estimates and are dependent on the giant pandas’ schedules.
Born 47 minutes apart on September 3, 2016, Ya Lun and Xi Lun are the only giant panda twins in the U.S. and are Lun Lun’s and Yang Yang’s sixth and seventh offspring. They are ambassadors for Zoo Atlanta’s most significant long-term investment in wildlife conservation. 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 the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded 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 $10 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.
In honor of the giant pandas’ many supporters and friends around the world, Zoo Atlanta celebrates Panda Fan Appreciation Week from September 3 through September 7, 2018 on PandaCam hosted by Animal Planet. Throughout the week, fans may vote daily on Zoo Atlanta Facebook on enrichment items for the giant pandas, who will receive the winning items live on PandaCam during each day of the celebration. These are highlights of the Zoo’s robust enrichment program, in place year-round for all species. Enrichment, which may take the form of objects, foods, puzzles or activities, stimulates’ animals natural behaviors and adaptations while promoting their well-being.
Fans may also support the giant pandas through a limited-time “Life is better with pandas” T-shirt campaign. All profits from the T-shirts, which are available in a variety of colors and styles, support Zoo Atlanta. T-shirt sales end September 14.
Visit us here to learn more about conservation efforts at Zoo Atlanta.
Ya Lun’s and Xi Lun’s celebration: Friday, August 31, 2018, 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Panda Fan Appreciation Week: Monday, September 3 through Friday, September 7, 2018 on PandaCam
800 Cherokee Avenue, S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30315
Rachel Davis, Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office
404.309.2238 – cell
Gavin Johnson, Public Relations and Communications Specialist
404.624.5980 – office
About the giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta
The giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta dates to the mid-1990s, prior to the debut of giant panda pair Lun Lun and Yang Yang, who arrived in 1999 on loan from China. Zoo Atlanta initiated its giant panda loan with its primary Chinese partners, the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG), the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Chengdu Zoo. Zoo Atlanta scientists developed a program focused on using behavioral and veterinary research to understand, support, and lengthen maternal care; improve reproductive success and well-being; understand giant pandas’ cognitive and perceptual abilities; and improve health, including preventative medicine. Zoo Atlanta’s relationship with the Chengdu Research Base and Chengdu Zoo also led to the creation of conservation education departments at these institutions – the first of their kind in Chinese zoos. In 2012, Zoo Atlanta and partners Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, Memphis Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global earned the prestigious International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for their long-term commitment to the species. To date, seven giant panda cubs have been born at Zoo Atlanta: Mei Lan (2006); Xi Lan (2008); Po (2010); twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan (2013); and twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun (2016). Mei Lan, Xi Lan, Po, Mei Lun and Mei Huan currently reside at the Chengdu Research Base.
About Zoo Atlanta
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. Zoo highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, a set of twins born to Lun Lun on September 3, 2016; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. The Zoo’s newest experience, Treetop Trail presented by Kaiser Permanente, opened in March 2017. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas and lemurs. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.