Save these pandas!

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You see that little guy to the right? That’s Xi Lan, the newest addition to Zoo Atlanta’s panda family who was born in August of last year. Doesn’t Xi Lan look sad? It’s because he’s just been informed that unless Zoo Atlanta meets its fundraising goal of $500,000, he, his big sister, Mei Lan, and their parents, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, are going to be saying zai jian (goodbye) to the Peach State.

As I wrote in last year’s package we did on China’s impact on Georgia, only three other parks in the country (in San Diego, Memphis, and Washington, D.C.) host giant pandas. Yang Yang and Lun Lun are here on a ten-year loan from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Chengdu Zoo, and that gig is up now. That means ta-ta as well to YY and LL’s two little fuzzy tots with Atlanta namesakes–“Mei Lan” means “Atlanta beauty” and “Xi Lan,” “Atlanta’s Joy”–unless Zoo Atlanta can get the money needed to renegotiate a new five-year lease on the pandas.

It costs the Zoo around $2 million a year to host the black-and-white family, including $1.1 million that’s sent to China annually for conservation and habitat protection efforts at Chengdu, in the Szechuan province. That’s a good chunk of Zoo Atlanta’s own conservation funds.

But hello! It’s sooo worth it! Have you SEEN these darlings? No? Well a LOT of other people have–the additional traffic to see the pandas has helped the zoo remain debt free after years in the red.

To help contribute, you have several options. You can become a Zoo Atlanta member ($79-$99, which, among many other discounts, allows you free admission for a year); sponsor a cub ($65; comes with a bunch of panda-related goodies); or do a straight-up donation of any amount.

C’mon Atlanta! There’s nothing worse than a sad panda. Especially one whose name means “Atlanta’s Joy”! We’ll keep you updated …

(Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta)

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