Pandas are absolutely adorable and fun to watch, but sadly, they are not native to the United States. However, for the past 50 years, the animals have been on American soil thanks to some zoos' agreements with China, where the creatures come from. However, those agreements ended or are set to end and attempts to renew them have failed.
With no contract in place, zoos in Memphis and San Diego have already returned their pandas. Meanwhile, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. announced that its three pandas, Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and Xiao Qi Ji, will be going back to China in December. They explained that their most recent three-year agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association is due to end and hasn't been renewed.
That will leave just Zoo Atlanta's twin pandas Ya Lun and Xi Lun, and their parents, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, as the only pandas remaining in America. However, Ya Lun and Xi Lun's contracts are up early next year, and their parents' agreement expires later in 2024. It's unlikely any will remain here. In a statement, the zoo explained, "No discussions have yet occurred with partners in China about the status of Zoo Atlanta's giant panda program beyond the end of the loan in 2024."
The U.S. was the first country to be granted a panda by China. Back in 1972, China gifted the animal to America after President Nixon eased the relationship between the U.S. and China. The move was referred to as "panda diplomacy." As to why China isn't extending the agreements, many believe it is due to the current tension between America and China. The U.K. is also on track to return the two pandas currently at the Edinburgh Zoo since their contract doesn't seem like it will be renewed either.