WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The Smithsonian National Zoo confirmed Thursday that giant pandas Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Xiao Qi Ji, landed safely in China.
The FedEx “Panda Express” touched down in the Chengdu Provence at around 10:40 a.m. (11:40 p.m. in Chengdu.)
For more than 50 years, the Smithsonian National Zoo and the Conservation Biology Institute had cared for and studied the pandas.
The zoo team has made breakthroughs in healthcare, disease treatment, and reproductive science for the pandas.
After more than 25 years on the endangered species list, pandas have been downgraded to ‘vulnerable.’
China owns and leases all giant pandas in the United States, the pandas are being returned as their leases were set to expire.
This comes at a moment when trade relations between the U.S. and China appear strained.