A four year old panda born and raised at the San Diego Zoo is on his way to China to join that country’s breeding program.
Mei Sheng, which translates to “Born in the USA”, is traveling to the Wolong Nature Reserve for Giant Pandas as part of a loan agreement between the US and China that requires all foreign born pandas to return to China when they mature.
Ron Swaisgood of the SDZ’s Giant Panda Conservation Unit told the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper that, “As a critically endangered species, it is vital that Mei Sheng is in a place where he will be around other pandas, and the Wolong Nature Reserve is a great home.”
Swaisgood said: “Mei Sheng will be missed … but his role in the conservation of his species involves a move to China.”
Mei Sheng is the second US born giant panda to be returned to China. Hua Mei, also born at the San Diego Zoo, has given birth to three cubs in the Wolong reserve after she returned to the country. The animals are critically endangered with only about 1,600 of the creatures surviving in the wild. Only about 180 pandas live in captivity.
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