San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance signs agreement that could bring back giant pandas

The new bears could arrive at the zoo as soon as late summer 2024 if all permits are approved.

Bai Yun — a giant panda in the San Diego Zoo in 2019.

Bai Yun in the San Diego Zoo in April 2019.

Photo by Ken Bohn and San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) is one step closer to having giant pandas return to SD. The organization signed a new cooperative agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association that could bring the beloved animals back to the San Diego Zoo.

The effort will allow SDZWA to study pandas and understand what the species needs to survive in a changing climate. The gesture of friendship will continue a 30-year partnership with China that has helped recover the vulnerable species.

SDZWA also filed an application with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the anticipated return.

Zoo reps told The Associated Press that if all permits are approved, the zoo is expected to receive a male and female panda potentially by late this summer. It’s also believed that the female may be a descendant of Bai Yun and Gao Gao — the zoo’s famous former panda residents.

The San Diego Zoo bid farewell to its giant pandas in April 2019 after the previous conservation loan agreement ended and they were repatriated to China.

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