January 19th, 2011
10:17 PM ET

Panda diplomacy continues under Obama

Washington (CNN) - While the talks between President Obama and President Hu may not have produced major headlines from topics such as currency and trade,  there was news about the National Zoo’s beloved pandas.

In the toasts at the State Dinner, President Obama announced that the pandas can extend their visit to the zoo for a little longer. In speaking of the ways that the U.S. and China were working together, Mr. Obama said, “under a new agreement, our National Zoo will continue to dazzle children and visitors with the beloved giant pandas.”

“This new five year agreement marks the next great phase for the giant panda program at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, said Director Dennis Kelly. We realized several significant scientific breakthroughs over the past ten years and now we’ll be able to continue our panda breeding efforts here and focus on the next conservation challenges giant pandas face in the wild. We know Americans love Mei Xiang and Tian Tian so it is an honor to have them stay with us for a while longer.”

Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have been in the U.S. for the past ten years, on loan from the China Wildlife Conservation Association. They were scheduled to return to China this year. Their offspring, Tai Shan, was returned to China last February, upsetting many panda watchers in the U.S.

“The loan of giant pandas to the National Zoo has long symbolized the close partnership the United States has with China as we work together to conserve and recover one of the world’s most endangered species in the wild,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “I am proud that this agreement not only ensures that visitors to the National Zoo will continue to be able to visit and learn about these beautiful animals, but also provides a strong platform for improving the conservation of wild pandas and their habitat in China."

The first pandas to arrive in Washington were during the Nixon Administration when Chinese leader Mao Zedong sent two pandas. They were a result of President Nixon’s historic visit to the People’s Republic of China. Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing became a top attraction at the National Zoo until they died in the 1990s.

Bob Kovach contributed to this story

Topics: China • State Visit • The Buzz

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. MAC

    I would rather have Economic Diplomacy work fairly for Americans than have Panda Diplomacy. If you trust the Chinese Governmant and Military as being our friends you need to take off your rose colored glasses and stop smoking that wacky weed!

    January 20, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  2. Tim

    Ship the pandas back... and see if we Americans care.

    January 20, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  3. Marry

    @Tim – yes, I agree with you – many Americans have become very “careless”; never mind on what topic.
    @ MAC – it is a joke to have Economic Diplomacy work fairly. For whom? As if America has ever dealt fairly on economics with other countries! It is just a different feeling when instead of the second and third world America is on the receiving end. And of cause, China is going to work for its own interests – has not America always done that? And everybody that looked a little beyond the own boarder was immediately called “unpatriotic”? But perhaps America and China will see that there are a lot of common interests that make life better for all.

    So please, just step a little back and do not knock everything? If you do want to find a little critic, perhaps you might go into the direction of Mr. Boehner. He is so busy trying to repeal healthcare reform without bringing anything better to the table that he cannot even find time in his position as the “Speaker of the House” to greet a very important States guest. Disgusting!
    By the way, the President and the First Lady do a fantastic job!! Congratulations!

    January 20, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Hey, Marry 1:48 am!!

      You're full of baloney!

      January 20, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Terry

      Marry; I agree with you completely!

      March 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  4. Henry Miller

    How about a trade? We'll keep the pandas indefinitely and, in exchange, we'll let Hu take Obama home with him. I mean, after all, Obama's politics are probably just about indistinguishable from Hu's anyway–he'd feel right at home.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • Henry Miller at 2:40 a.m.!!

      Totally agree with you!

      January 20, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  5. Marie MD

    The President and the Pandas get an extension. Good for all of us in this country.
    Diplomacy is a confabulation of ideas. It's not just about the pandas. It's about being able to conduct an intelligent conversation with the leader of another country without using gun rhetoric or snarky remarks. It's about all of us not that "one" person who feels wronged.
    @tim – get a life man, we care!

    January 20, 2011 at 6:21 am |
    • Hey, Marie MD.!!

      YOU definitely need to accompany Hu to China. You don't seem to like America very much!

      January 20, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  6. Dean

    Great we give China $350 billion a year and we get to borrow some bears.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:14 am |

    Obama is just proving how stupid he really is. China works with no one. Especially the U.S. Hu would just as soon see us sink into obliven as he is to help us. If he offers help it is with an agenda. He has already gone to the World Bank to make China's currency the standard back-up currency for the world. The U.S. has held that position since conception because of it's gold satandard. Now with that gone and Obama at the helm with his purpose to destroy America we have debt like France that we can never repay. Our dollar has already deflated to 50% of it's worth. Soon if Obama goes to printing more money twith no collateral like he wants then we will be looking at about 15 cents on the dollar. Food will skyrocket and we will bankrupt. Government pensions will be gone as will, welfare, medicare, social security, savings accounts and so on, etc. THANK YOU OBAMA YOU FOOLISH PRESIDENT OF OUTWARD PREPORTIONS. AMERICA WILL NEVER RECOVER FROM YOU.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:32 am |

      This article and the president's comment where meant to be light and in good humor. Why do you have to take things so seriously? (by the way except your grammar and spelling). Mr Obama is your president whether you like it or not, your idiotic ranting online is not going to change that.

      January 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
      • Jay in NC

        "Why do you have to take things so seriously?" Unemployment rate above 9% is one reason. There are a trillion others also.

        January 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  8. Bruce

    @ Marry: Really? You are equating China as being equal to us? Fine, go live over there in a communist society and let me know how you like it after awhile. And if you think China is a very important state guest you really are whacky. The only reason we even placate China is because we are in debt up to our ears in no small part due to the Democrats.

    January 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  9. Ted

    How can you people live with yourselves? You must live crappy lives to take a nice topic such as the Pandas and turn it into the typical rightwing lunatic bile. Are you all Fox commentators and Palin lovers? Pandas are wonderful animals – take a minute to appreciate natures beauty.

    January 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Ted, the story is not about "natures beauty."

      January 21, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  10. BlackSunshine84

    We have giant pandas at our zoo and we didn't need 0bama to get them here.

    January 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  11. kouli

    A great victory for the Obama administration during Hu visit.They agree to extend the Pandas stay in th US.To hell with the economy,trade,the nonexisting human rights in China that i could care less about,the creation of jobs in China and the increase in unemplyment in the US.There is nothing in this country that you can get that is made in China even if you wanted to.Is that what the ORGANIZER calls big strides in trade?This country has been hijacked not by the left and by the right but by IDIOTS LIKE OBAMA.PLEASE BRING TRUMP TO POWER AND HE WILL SHOW HU HOW BUSSINESS SCOULD BE DONE..

    January 21, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  12. Tim Petters

    Good stuff is always a good stuff. Thanks

    February 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm |