Ya Lun and Xi Lun reach new milestone
Ya Lun and Xi Lun the giant panda twins have reached a new milestone: all-day play in their dayroom habitat
The only giant panda twins in the U.S., Ya Lun and Xi Lun, were 6 months old on March 3, 2016, and the duo has reached a new milestone: all-day play in their dayroom habitat in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center at Zoo Atlanta.
Since making their first appearance in the dayroom with their mother, Lun Lun, in December 2016, the twins have been spending more and more time in the habitat in recent months and now weigh around 22 pounds (Ya Lun) and 21 pounds (Xi Lun). Now both very able runners and climbers, the pair will experience their next milestone – exploring the great outdoors – in coming weeks.
Giant pandas represent Zoo Atlanta’s most significant 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, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta. In September 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the giant panda’s status from “endangered” to “vulnerable.” The species remains heavily reliant on conservation programs, and giant pandas face ongoing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.
Born September 3, 2016, the cubs are the sixth and seventh offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang. Their older brothers and sisters, Mei Lan, Xi Lan, Po, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
Visit zooatlanta.org to plan your trip. Check in with Ya Lun, Xi Lun and Lun Lun on PandaCam hosted by Animal Planet L!VE, and follow Zoo Atlanta on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for cub updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Meet Lun Lun and the twins in a Lun Lun and Cubs Wild Encounter; visit zooatlanta.org for details and availability.
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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); Mei Lun and Mei Huan (2013); and Ya Lun and Xi Lun, a second set of twins born to Lun Lun on September 3, 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. The Zoo’s newest destination, Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, opened in 2015 and is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. Zoo highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, a set of twins born to Lun Lun on September 3, 2016; North America’s largest zoological population of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas and warthogs. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.