By Suri Zheng
In last week’s article, I briefly described the history and characteristics of giant pandas. This time I will briefly introduce the giant pandas living in the United States as of 2023. Did you know that there are only three zoos in the United States that currently house pandas? The Smithsonian National zoo in Washington DC, Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta Georgia, and Memphis zoo in Memphis Tennessee.
The Smithsonian National zoo’s giant pandas。
The giant pandas currently residing in the zoo are Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Xiao Qi Ji.
Mei Xiang, which translates to “beautiful fragrance” is a female giant panda born in Sichuan on July 22, 1998. She is very “tentative to new surroundings”. Although pandas are known to be solitary, she has no problem swiping food away from her partner Tian Tian. If you visit the Smithsonian zoo, you can easily spot Mei Xiang with her distinct black “stockings” that are higher than other pandas. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian had 4 cubs, Xiao Qi Ji, Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei, but three of them were returned to China when they were just four years old.
Tian Tian, which translates to “abundant”, is the male panda pal of Mei Xiang and was born on Aug. 27, 1997, in China. He is known to be calm and munching on biscuits the night of his and Mei Xiang’s revealing. Besides being food motivated, he is also known as the escape artist, as he was always trying to escape his enclosure in China. He doesn’t have those high black stockings but he does have 2 faint black dots across his nose.
Lastly is Xiao Qi Ji, which means “little miracle”. He was born on Aug. 21, 2020, and is the only one of his siblings here in the zoo. He is a very playful and smart panda that likes to be alone and climb trees.
The Atlanta zoo’s giant pandas。
There are 4 giant pandas in the Atlanta zoo: Yang Yang, Lun Lun, Ya Lun, and Xi Lun.
Yang Yang or “little sea” is the male partner of Lun Lun. He was born in China on September 9, 1997. He is known to be very playful and easygoing. He enjoys alerting humans and is curious of us as we are curious of him.
Lun Lun, who is named after a Taiwanese rock star, was born in China on August 25, 1997. She is a playful panda that likes to climb trees, and her cheeks are round and fluffy symbolizing her beautiful appearance. She and Yang Yang are the mothers of 7 cubs, “Mei Lan (born 2006); Xi Lan (born 2008); Po (born 2010); twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan (born 2013); and twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun, born September 3, 2016” (Atlanta Zoo).
Twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun：
Ya Lun and Xi Lun are Lun Lun and Yang Yang’s second set of female twins. Born on September 3, 2016. The twins are very curious and active as they learn to climb trees. They both enjoy trying out different foods and wrestling each other (Atlanta Zoo).
Memphis Zoo currently owns one giant panda, Ya Ya.
Ya Ya is a female panda born on August 3, 2000, in China. She was the female companion of Le Le who passed away last month due to heart disease. Before she got skin disease, experts say she was a quirky and outgoing panda that is liked by all guests and keepers.
These are the 8 pandas that are living in the U.S. as of now, but there could be more in the future.