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Today is National Panda Day!

National Panda Day is a day to celebrate, especially here at the Memphis Zoo where you can see two giant pandas up close and personal – Ya Ya and Le Le. With only four zoos in America being home to the species (San Diego Zoo, Zoo Atlanta and Smithsonian’s National Zoo), we are so proud to have Ya Ya and Le Le as a part of our family! 

Have you ever ordered a package online and thought the five to seven day arrival time was a bit excessive? Well, what about a four-year arrival time? Yep, that’s how long it took to organize the transport of our precious pandas from China after much discussion with diplomats and more than 10 trips to China, Washington, D.C., San Diego and Atlanta beginning in 1999. The duo finally arrived at their new home here at the Memphis Zoo on April 25, 2003, after being flown over by FedEx.   

For China to grant the Memphis Zoo a 10-year loan (which was renewed in 2013) of Ya Ya and Le Le, we had a lot of work to do, starting with conservation. Because the species is critically endangered, the Memphis Zoo committed to furthering conservation efforts and research related to saving the panda species. We helped fund a program, administered by the Beijing Zoo, to learn more about the nutrition and behavior of pandas; created a reserve-training program through the World Wildlife Fund; and developed several other research efforts to ensure the species will be around for years to come.   

You can find Ya Ya and Le Le lounging in the China exhibit, where they’re usually napping or chomping on their favorite snack – bamboo, of course!    

Brush up on your panda facts: 

  • Giant pandas are a smaller species of the bear family. Males only weigh up to 275 pounds and females up to 220 pounds. Compare that to our grizzlies in Teton Trek, who average 800 pounds.
  • Pandas have a very unique coloring of white with black ears, eyes, legs and shoulders.  
  • Giant pandas can eat up to 80 pounds of bamboo per day! 
  • The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species.  
  • They are found mainly in small reserves in central China.
Posted by Zoo Info at 2:42 PM

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