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  • Writer's pictureNadi Bangi

Welcome home! Giant Panda Mei Xiang's family returned to China.

Updated: Jan 12



CHENGDU, 27 Nov-At around 23:23 on November 9th, Chengdu experienced unexpected warmth despite the onset of winter. A plane with a distinctive panda logo landed at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport after a 19-hour flight. The passengers onboard were giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tim Tim, who had spent the past 23 years in the United States. The pandas returned to Sichuan, China, their place of birth.Their company was "Little Miracle," the male cub raised in Washington, D.C., who was also repatriated to China.

(Photo - Xinhua News Agency)

"Farewell Little Miracle, Mei Xiang, and Tim Tim. Have a safe journey." On Nov 8th, several fans of pandas gathered outside the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., to say goodbye to the giant panda family. Mei Xiang, who will soon be returning to China with her little ones, was bid adieu. Many individuals have witnessed the creation and development of the "Little Miracle" and are sad to see them go. The workers loaded three custom "traveling compartments" onto the lorry, which held giant pandas, bamboo, drinking water and other necessary supplies. Next, the convoy carrying "Mei Xiang", "Tim Tim" and "Little Miracle" departed from the zoo, heading to Washington Dulles International Airport.

(Giant panda "Tim Tim" *- According to the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCPP))

"Since 'Mei Xiang' and 'Tim Tim' arrived at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo in 2000, China and the United States have worked together closely to conserve and research giant pandas. This collaboration greatly contributes to mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries." At a short zoo event, Xu Xueyuan( Chinese Embassy Minister Xu Xueyuan in the United States) announced that China will work with its partners such as the US on protecting endangered species and researching biodiversity conservation. Brandy Smith, the director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Institute for Zoological and Biological Conservation, described the occasion as historic and acknowledged the challenges and pleasure that it brought. Mei Xiang and Tim Tim have been the zoo's favourites since arriving in the United States and have become symbols all over the country.

(Giant Panda "Little Miracle" - Photo courtesy of China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda (CCRCPCP))

Mei Xiang and Tim Tim, the giant pandas, were born at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda's Walnut Ping Rewilding Training Base on July 22, 1998 and August 27, 1997, respectively. In December 2000, "Tim Tim" and "Mei Xiang" journeyed from Wolong, Sichuan Province to Washington, D.C. as "China-US Friendship Ambassadors". They commenced their 10-year residence in the U.S. National Zoo as per the agreement between China and the U.S. on cooperative research of giant pandas. The pandas started residing in the United States National Zoo for a duration of 10 years according to this agreement.

(Giant panda "Mei Xiang" - Photo courtesy of China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda(CCRCPCP))

At 1pm on Nov 8, the unique aircraft carrying the "Mei Xiang" family departed. The plane's transportation service is provided by the American FedEx Corporation, and it will make a stop in Anchorage before heading to Chengdu, China. The journey takes approximately 19 hours, and a vet and two breeders accompanied the animals during the trip.

The "Mei Xiang" family arrived at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport around 11pm on Nov 9th. The family of three will stay at the Shenshuping base in Sichuan Wolong Chinese giant panda park, but must first undergo one month of isolation and quarantine.

(Image according to Google)

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