I lived in DC for 20 years and I absolutely loved it. I’d move back in a heartbeat—great museums, restaurants, theatre, music, you name it. Plus the city is full of greenery and parks and is just a beautiful place to live.
One of the most beautiful places is the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, known to everyone as The National Zoo. Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture and the architect of Central Park in New York City, designed a jewel-like setting for a park that is meant to both delight and educate.
There’s a part of the National Zoo that is on display outside of the zoo itself, and that’s the black squirrels you see all over northwest DC. My neighborhood had plenty of these descendants of a 1902 gift from Canada who then immediately set up residences both inside and outside of their open air zoo enclosure.
Undoubtedly the biggest draw at the zoo was the panda enclosure. Who could resist these gorgeous animals which were as much a part of DC as the monuments? So when their lease was up in early November, the city said a sad farewell, complete with police escort,
Then today, there was news:
Pandas were not at the top of the agenda when President Biden and Chinese President Xi met this week. But following the talks, Xi signaled pandas may be returning to the National Zoo and other U.S. zoos. https://t.co/cvyF8fhuuH
— DCist (@DCist) November 16, 2023
Looks like things might change soon:
“I was told that many American people, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and went to the zoo to see them off,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking through an interpreter Wednesday evening.
“Pandas have long been envoys of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples. We are ready to continue our cooperation with the United States on panda conservation,” Xi said, during a dinner hosted by the US-China Business Council and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. The dinner came after President Joe Biden met with Xi for more than four hours on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference in San Francisco.
While pandas were not at the top of the agenda for the meeting, and were likely not discussed at all, China may be preparing to send more pandas to the U.S. as a sign the two countries’ relationship is on the mend. Doing so, Xi said, would “deepen friendly ties between our peoples.”
Speaking in California, Xi singled out the San Diego zoo in his comments:
“The San Diego Zoo and the Californians very much look forward to welcoming pandas back,” Xi said, adding that China would “do our best to meet the wishes of the Californians.”
A spokesperson for the National Zoo said she could not comment on Xi’s remarks. But in interviews before the pandas left, zoo officials said they were optimistic pandas would be returning to D.C. soon — in fact, the zoo is spending $2.5 million to revamp the panda enclosures while they are empty.
Let’s hope Dark Brandon can pull this off.
This seems to fit here: