December 3, 2023
Bai Yun chomps on bamboo for breakfast in its enclosure on the San Diego Zoo in 2019. Photograph by Chris Stone

The USA would welcome again any large pandas China decides to ship, the White Home mentioned on Thursday after Chinese language President Xi Jinping hinted he may return a few of the cuddly-looking black-and-white bears to San Diego as a friendship gesture.

“He indicated a willingness to consider returning a few of them. We clearly appreciated having them right here. And we respect the sovereign determination that China made to take away a few of the pandas,” White Home spokesman John Kirby mentioned at a briefing.

“And positively ought to a call be made by the PRC (Individuals’s Republic of China) to revive a few of the pandas to america, we might completely welcome them again.”

Washington’s Nationwide Zoo bid a tearful farewell to its beloved trio of large pandas final week because the long-serving goodwill ambassadors to the U.S. capital started a journey again to China that was introduced earlier this yr.

Xi famous their departure in a speech to American enterprise leaders in San Francisco Wednesday evening on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation (APEC) discussion board.

“I used to be instructed that many American folks, particularly kids, had been actually reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas, and went to the zoo to see them off,” Xi mentioned.

He mentioned he additionally realized that the San Diego Zoo and other people in California stay up for welcoming pandas again.

Xi talked about solely California when he hinted they could return. 

San Diego misplaced its pandas in 2019 after a 23-year mortgage from the China got here to an finish.

“Pandas have lengthy been envoys of friendship between the Chinese language and American peoples,” Xi mentioned.

“We’re able to proceed our cooperation with america on panda conservation, and do our greatest to satisfy the desires of the Californians in order to deepen the pleasant ties between our two peoples.”

The large panda is the rarest member of the bear household and among the many world’s most threatened animals, in keeping with the World Wildlife Fund.