Three large pandas boarded a 19-hour flight to China at present, greater than fifty years after their species first arrived on the Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Nationwide Zoo. This can be a transfer that some specialists say marks the tip of ‘panda diplomacy’ as tensions between the US and China proceed to rise.
The FedEx B777-FS2 plane “Panda Categorical” (N886FD), carrying the three beloved DC pandas, has taken off from Dulles Airport (IAD) for the 19-hour journey to China.
It is the primary time in 23 years that the panda exhibit on the Nationwide Zoo has been empty.
🎥Joseph Olmo / NBC4 Washington pic.twitter.com/vMUJiawjF3
— FL360aero (@fl360aero) November 8, 2023
Pandas return to China from Washington DC
“Goodbye and secure travels,” a Chinese language diplomat mentioned in a message to the pandas, who had been dwelling in Washington DC on mortgage from China, in accordance with Fox Information.
Mei Xiang, the feminine panda, was the primary to depart the zoo in a FedEx crate. Later, she was joined by the person Tian Tian and their 3-year-old son Xiao Qi Ji, who had been every in their very own crate.
“The three members of the family are all in good well being and prepared for the flight,” the Chinese language diplomat mentioned in his full feedback. “As a diplomat in Washington, I say goodbye and have a secure journey. As a Chinese language authorities official, I say welcome again.”
Earlier than the pandas left, Nationwide Zoo Director Brandie Smith gave a farewell speech to them, describing this as a “powerful morning emotionally.”
“It is a second of pleasure as a result of that is one other step in 50 years of a profitable large panda conservation program, and hopefully the start of one other 50 years,” Smith mentioned, in accordance with NBC Washington. “Please know that the longer term is brilliant for large pandas. We stay dedicated to our program and we look ahead to celebrating with all of you when pandas can return to DC”
❤️🐼 Whether or not he was climbing down a snow-covered hill, splashing in a bath filled with soapy water, or snacking on bamboo shoots, large panda Tian Tian captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands together with his laid-back and goofy character. We want him a secure journey to China. #Pandastory @smithsonian pic.twitter.com/tDxRyQ7DsI
— Nationwide Zoo (@NationalZoo) November 8, 2023
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American panda lovers say goodbye
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The Nationwide Zoo had saved the pandas’ departure date a secret, solely revealing to the general public that they would depart earlier than mid-November. It wasn’t till early Wednesday morning that the zoo confirmed that the animals would depart at present, however guests nonetheless got here to say goodbye.
“We’re simply sending them good needs on their travels,” mentioned one girl, with just a little boy holding his personal toy panda, including: “I will cry once they depart.”
Normally I watch the panda cam for stress aid, now that the pandas are going again I am unable to do it anymore https://t.co/YiDCLi7UOX
– a bit fats (@dugongterkapar) November 8, 2023
The Nationwide Zoo web site states that this program started in 1972 after “First Woman Patricia Nixon talked about her love of large pandas to Chinese language Premier Zhou Enlai.”
“As a gesture of goodwill following President Nixon’s groundbreaking state go to, Prime Minister Enlai offered two large pandas to the American individuals,” the zoo continued. “Situated within the nation’s capital and with free admission, President and Mrs. Nixon selected the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo as the house for the enormous panda bears.”
Right this moment, March 16, is the day #NationalPandaDay and former First Woman Patricia Nixon’s birthday. Mrs. Nixon performed an essential position within the arrival of large pandas @NationaleZoo. At a dinner in Beijing, China in February 1972, Mrs. Nixon talked about her love of pandas to Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. #GP50 pic.twitter.com/7H94IbvyzD
— Nationwide Zoo (@NationalZoo) March 16, 2022
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Finish of ‘Panda Diplomacy’
Dennis Wilder, a senior fellow at Georgetown College’s Initiative for US-China Dialogue on World Points, described the transfer as “punishment panda diplomacy,” stating that two different US zoos have misplaced their pandas to China in recent times.
Different specialists say this marks the tip of ‘panda diplomacy’ amid US-China tensions.
“There isn’t any doubt that this can be a reflection of the state of bilateral relations,” Yun Solar, a China knowledgeable on the Stimson Middle, a overseas affairs assume tank, informed Politico. “The pandas ought to unite the connection with the US, and the connection between the US and China is so unhealthy anyway. What is the level of the panda being right here?”
After greater than 20 years of ‘panda diplomacy’, Washington’s widespread pandas are being despatched again to China. pic.twitter.com/ucueA3t6iN
— ABC Information (@ABC) November 8, 2023
All this simply goes to indicate how a lot instances have modified because the days of US-China unity. What do you consider this? Tell us within the feedback part.
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