China, in a global endeavor to conserve and study giant pandas, has formed partnerships with 19 countries, resulting in 63 pandas now residing abroad. The National Forestry and Grassland Administration’s latest report underscores the remarkable well-being of these overseas pandas, underscoring the accomplishments in international panda conservation.
As of the present, China is in collaboration with 23 foreign institutions from various countries including Japan, Austria, Spain, the UK, France, Singapore, Germany, Russia, and Qatar in the sphere of panda conservation and research. Evaluations conducted on-site have revealed that these foreign institutions consistently meet the stringent requirements for panda enclosure construction, feeding and care, and disease prevention and control measures, according to China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration, as reported by China Central Television (CCTV).
Giant pandas are a unique and rare species indigenous to China, and since the 1990s, China has been actively engaged in collaborative panda conservation and research initiatives with countries and regions worldwide. These collaborative efforts primarily concentrate on panda breeding, disease research, and public education.
Participating countries have not only constructed top-tier facilities for breeding and exhibition but have also established elite teams for feeding, medical care, and scientific research. They actively partake in conservation and scientific exchanges with China and are highly regarded in their respective countries, as reported by CCTV.
International cooperation in panda conservation has played a pivotal role in advancing species preservation and promoting friendly relations between China and other countries and regions. Many pandas residing in foreign countries have become beloved figures among the local populace to such an extent that bidding farewell to these pandas upon their return to China has become a common occurrence.
In a notable incident in February, the homecoming of giant panda Xiang Xiang caused a stir in Japan. Hundreds of Japanese fans, some in tears, waved goodbye to the hugely popular Xiang Xiang as she left for her home country on a charter flight over Narita International Airport. Her return was initially slated for the end of December 2020 but was repeatedly postponed due to her immense popularity in Japan and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the United States, giant panda enthusiasts bid adieu to Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their three-year-old son Xiao Qi Ji, scheduled to return to China by December 7. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., dedicated a nine-day event to allowing thousands of devoted fans to see these cherished “diplomats” one last time earlier this month. The giant panda has become an emblem of Washington, alongside the White House and the Capitol, following the zoo’s housing of eight giant pandas since 1972.
Back in March, the Chinese public expressed concerns about giant panda Ya Ya’s condition in the United States. This concern evolved into a spontaneous global “campaign” by Chinese people to check on the well-being of pandas in overseas zoos. Ya Ya safely returned to China in April, showing visible signs of improved health in the following months.
In a significant development, September saw the establishment of the first-ever giant panda college under China West Normal University (CWNU) in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. The college’s primary aim is to cultivate advanced professionals in the conservation of rare animals and plants.