Two giant pandas who have been a favorite of San Diegans for decades will no longer be a part of the San Diego Zoo, officials announced Monday.
The news, while shocking to many who love to visit and follow the lives of the giant pandas, was not unexpected, according to the San Diego Zoo officials.
“Although we are sad to see these pandas go, we have great hopes for the future,” Shawn Dixon, Chief Operating Officer, San Diego Zoo Global said in a written release.
The zoo’s giant panda conservation program began more than two decades ago when the species was threatened with extinction.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species changed pandas from endangered to vulnerable in 2016.
The zoo’s work with Bai Yun and her cubs have helped to boost the wild population of pandas in China to more than 2,000, according to the zoo.
Now, researchers will work to redefine what panda conservation and research will mean in the future.
“Thanks to the work we’ve done, we have met the initial conservation goals we set more than 25 years ago,” Carmi Penny, director of Collections Husbandry Science at the San Diego Zoo said in a written release.
Bai Yun’s longtime mate Gao Gao was returned to the Chinese Center for Research and Conservation for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) in October.
The father of five cubs born at the San Diego Zoo, Gao Gao had been living at the zoo for 15 years as part of a long-term loan agreement with the People’s Republic of China.
Guests to the San Diego Zoo will be able to say goodbye to Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu up until April 27.