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San Francisco Zoo has been selected to receive Giant Pandas as part of China’s Panda Diplomacy program.

A memorandum of understanding signed by Mayor Breed and the CWCA this morning is the first official leased agreement for Giant Pandas to have residency at the San Francisco Zoo. In 1984 and again in 1985, the San Francisco Zoo temporarily hosted Giant Pandas from China as part of a global tour.

The Mayor’s announcement comes after advocacy leading up to, during and after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) hosted last November in San Francisco, between the City and Chinese government, the NFGA and CWCA, and the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco to bring Giant Pandas to the San Francisco Zoo.

“San Francisco is absolutely thrilled that we will be welcoming Giant Pandas to our San Francisco Zoo,” said Mayor London Breed. “We have been working closely with our local API community to advocate for pandas nearly a year ago leading up to APEC in November, and it’s an honor that our City has been chosen for the first time to be a long-term home for Giant Pandas. San Francisco is an international destination and the gateway to the Asia Pacific – having pandas here will strengthen our already deep cultural connection and honors our Chinese and API heritage that is core to San Francisco’s history. We are ready to welcome visitors from all over the world to our beautiful zoo. This is a momentous opportunity, and one I am grateful for, I know I join so many who can’t wait to see them in San Francisco.”

President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) traveled to San Francisco in November to meet with President Joseph R. Biden and government leaders during APEC. In his remarks, the President shared his vision to further people to people exchanges between China and the United States, and his intention to bring China’s Panda Diplomacy program back to the United States.

In February, Mayor Breed sent a letter to President Xi Jinping along with over 70 local Chinese and API community and merchant leaders to advocate for San Francisco to receive pandas, and to highlight the opportunity to build a stronger, lasting relationship between China and San Francisco.

San Francisco had pandas at the Zoo most recently on temporary visits in 1984 and 1985. In 1984, two pandas named Yun-Yun and Ying-Xin visited the zoo for three months as part of the 1984 Summer Olympics tour, and drew more than 260,000 visitors to the San Francisco Zoo, roughly four times the average attendance during the time. The pandas visited the San Francisco Zoo again in 1985 for three months.

Having Giant Pandas semi-permanently will be of significant importance to San Francisco’s local Chinese and API communities, as well as the City’s economic and tourism efforts as a major boost to San Francisco’s attractions and offerings.

The timeline for the arrival of the pandas will be set by the completion of a panda enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo. Preliminary planning for that work has already begun as part of the City’s advocacy to welcome pandas to San Francisco. This week in San Francisco, engineers from the Beijing Zoo traveled to San Francisco to meet with San Francisco Zoo engineers to collaborate on Giant Panda enclosures as preparation work continues.

In May, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association will send a delegation from Beijing to San Francisco to further engage on timeline, next steps and the buildout for the enclosures to accommodate the Giant Pandas.