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Ya Lun and Xi Lun are turning 1!

Ya Lun’s and Xi Lun’s big day will be the highlight of a black-and-white holiday weekend.

Ya Lun and Xi Lun turn 1 on September 3, and nothing less than a holiday weekend packed with celebration will do for the only giant panda twins in the U.S. Festivities will include three days of special admission offers, a giant of a giant panda birthday surprise on the twins’ big day, a chance to tune in live for an advance sneak-peek at the secrets of giant panda “cake” making, and much more.

Birthday special offers: From Saturday, September 2 through Labor Day on Monday, September 4, wear black-and-white to enjoy $5 off general admission. The offer is valid in-person only at Zoo Atlanta Admissions and is not valid online. Also from Saturday, September 2 through Monday, September 4, receive 10 percent off purchases of Dippin’ Dots Pandamonium Crunch at Dippin’ Dots locations within the Zoo.

On the twins’ big day on Sunday, September 3: Ya Lun and Xi Lun will receive birthday surprises – including ice cake creations built at the Zoo by celebrity panda pop-maker King of Pops – between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. in The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center. Well-wishers can also craft their own birthday greetings for the twins from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Born 47 minutes apart in the morning of September 3, 2016, Ya Lun and Xi Lun are the sixth and seventh offspring of Lun Lun, 20, and Yang Yang, 19. The pair, whose names together mean “Lun Lun’s elegant and happy daughters,” are ambassadors for Zoo Atlanta’s most significant long-term investment in wildlife conservation. Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain 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. 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.

In advance of the birthday weekend: Tune in to Zoo Atlanta Facebook at 12 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 31, for a live-broadcast look at the making of Ya Lun’s and Xi Lun’s ice cakes from behind the scenes in the Zoo’s Animal Nutrition Kitchen.

Stop by one of two Atlanta King of Pops locations to try the limited-time Panda Pop chosen by public vote via social media. King of Pops proposed three flavors inspired by the twins – Black-and-White Pop, Double-Layered Vanilla and Cookie Pop, and Chocolate Sea Salt Panda Edition – and more than 1,500 panda fans cast their votes the week of August 11. The winner, Black-and-White Pop, is available while supplies last at King of Pops’ cart at Ponce City Market Sheds near the Beltine entrance and their Inman Park Walk-up Window.

When it comes to their own birthday treats, Ya Lun and Xi Lun may explore or ignore the contents of their ice cakes, as giant pandas are not known to be adventurous eaters. Although Ya Lun and Xi Lun have begun nibbling at many of the adult giant pandas’ foods, especially bamboo, they will continue to nurse for several months.

Visit the birthday pair and their parents in the Zoo’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center, or tune in to PandaCam hosted by Animal Planet L!VE.

Admission and concession offers are valid only from September 2 through September 4, 2017, and are not valid with any other discount or promotion. Offers are not valid online.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Rachel Davis
Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office
404.309.2238 – cell
rdavis@zooatlanta.org

Gavin Johnson
Public Relations & Communications Specialist
404.624.5980 – office
gjohnson@zooatlanta.org

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; North America’s largest zoological population 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, lemurs and warthogs. Zoo Atlanta is open daily 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.

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