Published with information provided by Zoo Atlanta:
Giant pandas Xi Lan, age 5, and Po, 3, are on their way to one of the most anticipated milestones in the life of an Atlanta-born panda: a new start in their parents’ homeland. Lun Lun’s and Yang Yang’s second son and firstborn daughter are scheduled to depart Atlanta on May 7, 2014, en route to China’s Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
“As stewards of giant pandas here in the U.S., we’re fortunate to be able to observe so many important milestones in the lives of these treasured bears. Bidding them farewell is a bittersweet milestone, but it’s one that’s also very rewarding and exciting,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “We’ve joined friends and fans from around the world in watching Xi Lan and Po grow up at Zoo Atlanta, but they’ll now have an opportunity to make their own individual contributions to the global population of this endangered species.”
Xi Lan and Po aren’t the first Atlanta-born pandas to make this landmark transition. Their older brother, Mei Lan, made the voyage to Chengdu in 2010 at the age of 3. Born August 30, 2008, Xi Lan has lived independently from mother Lun Lun since February 2010, and Po, born November 3, 2010, has been on her own since January 2013. Giant pandas are solitary animals, and cubs are weaned and begin living independently at the age of around 18 months.
The giant pandas will be accompanied by familiar faces on their travels to their parents’ birthplace. Sam Rivera, DVM, Associate Veterinarian, and Kenn Harwood, Lead Keeper of Carnivores, will travel with Xi Lan and Po and will remain in China long enough to get the bears settled comfortably in their new home.
“Xi Lan’s and Po’s welfare is our highest priority, and the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are committed to ensuring that they have a safe journey and comfortable transition,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services. “The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a global center for the care of giant pandas, and our colleagues there are some of the world’s foremost specialists dedicated to the understanding and conservation of this species. We’ll certainly miss Xi Lan and Po, but we know they’ll be in expert hands.”
Fans are encouraged to visit the Zoo to wish Xi Lan and Po well on their new adventures. On Saturdays and Sundays, April 26 and 27 and May 3 and 4, stop by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center to sign well-wishes and pick up a limited-edition button. Button quantities are limited; available while supplies last. Activities will run from 9:30 a.m. to Noon on all four weekend days. The morning hours are best for seeing both Xi Lan and his sister on exhibit, as temperatures are cool enough for giant pandas to be outdoors. Once temperatures warm up, either Xi Lan or Po will be on exhibit in one of the interior dayrooms.
Meanwhile, life will continue as usual for the youngest members of Lun Lun’s and Yang Yang’s family. Now 9 months old, twin females Mei Lun and Mei Huan are on exhibit daily in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center. As their older brothers and sisters were before them, Mei Lun and Mei Huan will be weaned at the age of around 18 months.
Stay tuned for updates on Xi Lan’s and Po’s travels; updates will be posted on zooatlanta.org as they are available. Stay up-to-date on Mei Lun and Mei Huan on PandaCam presented by EarthCam on zooatlanta.org and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.
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