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
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