They are cute and cuddly and adorable, and steal the spotlight when they do the littlest things. No, we’re not talking about babies, we’re talking giant pandas.
They are an endangered species. There are only 1,600 wild giant pandas in the mountains of central China. In the U.S., 12 giant pandas live in four zoos, and all are on loan from China.
Starting in Washington, three giant pandas live at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., including little Bao Bao, who just turned one year old on August 23. Her parents, Tian Tian (meaning “more and more”), 17 years old, and Mei Xiang (“beautiful fragrance”), 16 years old, live in D.C. since their arrival in December 2000. According to tradition, Bao Bao got her name on her 100th day, meaning “treasure” or “precious.”
The four giant pandas in Zoo Atlanta are used to southern hospitality. Lun Lun, a 17-year old female, and Yang Yang, a 17-year old male, came to Georgia in 1999, and have had five babies since, including twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan, who celebrated their second birthdays in Atlanta on July 15. Some fun facts about family of pandas: Yang Yang’s name means “Nine Nine,” as he was born on 9/9/99, and his favorite scent is Tabasco sauce.
The two giant pandas that make their home at the Memphis Zoo shine in a spotlight all their own. Ya Ya, meaning “beautiful little girl,” is 14 years old, and Le Le, meaning “happy happy,” is 16.
On the west coast, three giant pandas enjoy the California sunshine at the San Diego Zoo: Bai Yun, an adult female, Gao Gao, an adult male, and Xiao Liwu (“little gift”), a male cub who celebrated his second birthday on July 29.