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San Diego Zoo Shares First Look at New Panda Pair

The San Diego Zoo has given the public a sneak peek at its new giant pandas, Yun Chuan and Xin Bao, as they settle into their new habitat.

The pair of pandas arrived from China on June 27, marking the first black-and-white bears to enter the U.S. in 21 years and the first to return to San Diego since 2019.

Adjusting to Their New Home

Photos released by the zoo show Yun Chuan and Xin Bao rolling and frolicking in their lush enclosure.

Yun Chuan, a nearly 5-year-old male, appears “extremely comfortable,” while Xin Bao, a nearly 4-year-old female, “enjoys sunbathing quietly and focusing on her favorite food,” according to zoo officials.

The wildlife team at the zoo is catering to the pandas’ dietary needs with fresh bamboo and a traditional Chinese bun known as wowotou, or “panda bread.”

The pandas are also undergoing weight monitoring and exercises to adapt to their new diet.

Health Monitoring and Care

“Veterinary teams from both countries are keeping a close eye on the pandas’ health, tracking their weight, appetite, and other health indicators daily to ensure they thrive in their new environment,” the zoo stated.

This careful monitoring is part of the zoo’s efforts to ensure the pandas’ successful adjustment and long-term health.

Aims of the Panda Program

While it is not yet clear if Yun Chuan and Xin Bao are interacting, the ultimate goal of the collaboration between the San Diego Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association is for the pandas to mate.

This initiative aims to “improve giant panda population health and resilience in some of the smallest and most isolated populations vulnerable to extinction and loss of genetic diversity.”

If a cub is born, it would stay in San Diego until it is at least two years old but no longer than four years before being sent to China. This practice aligns with previous agreements since the pandas are on loan from China.

Enhancements to the Panda Habitat

The old panda exhibit at the zoo is being renovated to combine two sections into a single habitat, providing more space for the bears to roam.

Additionally, an adjacent enclosure will be retrofitted to allow for expansion and more viewing space for guests.

Although the current plan is for two pandas, the enlarged exhibit has the capacity to accommodate four bears.

Panda Personalities

Yun Chuan, described as mild-mannered, gentle, and lovable, is the son of Zhen Zhen, who was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2007.

His name, “Yun,” honors his grandmother Bai Yun, who lived at the zoo for 23 years.

Xin Bao is characterized as a “gentle and witty introvert with a sweet round face and big ears.” Her name means “new treasure of prosperity and abundance.”

Panda Diplomacy and Public Viewing

Giant pandas hold significant diplomatic and cultural value. The number of pandas in American zoos has dwindled due to lapsed loan agreements amidst diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and China.

These tensions have led to calls from the Chinese public for the return of the pandas, with unfounded allegations of mistreatment circulating on Chinese social media.

Although Yun Chuan and Xin Bao have made significant progress in adapting to their new environment, they will not be viewable to the public for several weeks, the zoo announced.

With information from NBC Miami

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