Zoo officials announced the launch of Give So They Stay, a major fundraising effort to keep giant pandas in Atlanta. President & CEO Dennis Kelly made the announcement this morning from inside an empty giant panda habitat in the Zoo’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.
“Giant pandas have been an important part of Zoo Atlanta’s collection and a source of Atlanta pride for 10 years, and we are a national leader in the care and study of this species,” said Kelly. “Without significant support from our community, our giant panda family will have to return to China in the near future.”
Zoo Atlanta is one of only four zoos in the U.S. currently housing the critically endangered species, of which fewer than 1,600 are believed to remain in the wild. The Zoo’s adult giant pandas, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, arrived from China in November 1999 on a 10-year loan, achieving instant celebrity as two of Atlanta’s most recognized animal stars. The pair’s offspring, Mei Lan, 2, and Xi Lan, 9 months, were the only giant panda cubs born in the U.S. in 2006 and 2008.
The Give So They Stay campaign is focused on ensuring that Lun Lun, Yang Yang and Xi Lan continue to have a home in Atlanta, where they have become beloved by thousands of friends and fans around the world. Mei Lan, who turns 3 on September 6, has already been recommended to return China, where she will be a new and important contributor to the global captive population of giant pandas.
Friends of Zoo Atlanta’s giant pandas are encouraged to visit a new campaign website, www.givesotheystay.org, for program information, support vehicles and answers to frequently asked questions. The Give So They Stay effort will continue through December 31, 2009.
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