People gathered at the US National Zoo in the country’s capital on Saturday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first pandas to the United States from China.
The weekend featured a packed program of festivities, and “Pandaversary” was the main event in a six-month series of events organized by the zoo, officially known as the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing arrived at the National Zoo on April 16, 50 years ago. Now Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their youngest cub, Xiao Qi Ji, are at the zoo. Their other cubs, Tai Shan, Bao Bao and Bei Bei, were returned to China.
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang and Brandie Smith, director of the National Zoo, launched “Pandaversary” on Saturday morning.
Qin said the arrival of the pandas was one of the most important results of President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972. The 50-year cooperation on panda conservation between the United States and China “reached much” and the panda is no longer an endangered species, he said. . Qin thanked the zoo for making Washington a wonderful home for pandas.
“Pandas are the symbol of friendships. And the successful story of panda conservation is a very good example of China and the United States, where we could work together to work together, not only in panda conservation, but we can achieve more in other areas for the benefit of our two peoples and the peoples of the world, “he said.
“So I want pandas to live a happy life forever in DC, and we look forward to more cooperation,” Qin added.
Smith said China and the United States have maintained good communication in their efforts to preserve the giant panda over the years and worked together to save the endangered species. She said giant pandas are the best proof that the two countries can work closely together and they are the messengers of friendship that unite the two peoples.
Smith also expressed his anticipation for the future of the US-China cooperation program on pandas.
“The panda is not endangered, but there are still not enough pandas on the planet. We still need more pandas; we still need to look at continuing to save the habitat. And as for our program, that’s what we want. “to do, to continue working with our colleagues in China to work on understanding pandas in the wild and on conserving their habitat, but also to work on our plan to understand more about them as a species,” Smith told China Daily.
A 23-year-old traveling from New Jersey asking only to be identified as Dante was surprised to arrive just in time for “Pandaversary” and said, “This is my favorite animal, and I’ve loved them ever since. was a child. “
Ashley Clarke, a 35-year-old school counselor, came to the Philadelphia Zoo with her family to celebrate her daughter’s 12th birthday. “We just owe China a gratitude for creating this program and working with the United States. Everyone is so interested in conservation efforts and wants to be a part of it, and they remember that as a child, when they grew up, they heard that everyone was in danger. ” said Clarke.
There were special events and exhibitions at the zoo for “Pandaversary”, including the Chinese Embassy serving panda-shaped buns to visitors and the debut of a new documentary, The Miracle Panda, which tells the story behind the birth of Xiao Qi Ji.
The documentary’s producer, Nacressa Swan, told China Daily that it was “a privilege and a pleasure” to make the film about how the United States and China have worked together for so long.
“I think the most impressive thing for me is that the cooperation was really strong between China and the United States when they have something in common. It is as important as saving the giant panda. Our countries are working very well together,” he said. Swan.