China’s panda-politiek infographic
Graphic shows number of pandas in captivity outside China.


"Panda-diplomatie" leidt tot terugroepen beren uit dierentuinen

By Ninian Carter

October 6, 2023 - The United States, UK and Australia will soon bid farewell to their pandas in a likely indication of cooling relations with China.

The United States is set to lose three of its pandas at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. at the end of 2023, and the remaining four from Zoo Atlanta the following year, as a Chinese panda loan agreement expires.

Earlier in the year, the U.S. saw another panda recalled from Memphis Zoo – meaning it will have lost all eight of its pandas in under two years.

Likewise, the UK and Australia are set to say farewell to their pandas by the end of 2023 and 2024 respectively.

Currently, China has around 1,800 pandas living in the wild, with a further 65 pandas loaned out to 19 countries around the world, usually for 10-15 years, with agreements often extended.

In what has been dubbed “panda diplomacy”, China loans pandas out to foreign nations to promote its image abroad and aid building mutual partnerships between it and the recipient countries.

Host countries pay an annual fee of $1 million per bear, with the understanding that any panda cubs born in their zoos will be returned to China before their fourth birthday.

In the case of the U.S. losing all of its pandas, it’s likely that cooling relations between the U.S. and China are to blame for the loan agreements not being renewed – the National Zoo has had its agreements extended three times in the past, but not this time.

PUBLISHED: 06/10/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images