Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Mei Xiang

News from the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat

Giant pandas are black and white bears that live in temperate-zone bamboo forests in central China. Among the best recognized—but rarest—animals in the world, they have come to symbolize endangered species and conservation efforts. There are as few as 1,864 giant pandas in the wild. More than 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world; most of these pandas are in China.

Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are at the National Zoo under a Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement, signed in January 2011, between the Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. This extends the Zoo’s giant panda program through 2015. Mei and Tian are the focus of an ambitious research, conservation, and breeding program designed to preserve this endangered species.

Seeing Pandas at the Zoo

  • The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Please arrive early. Long lines require earlier cut-off times to ensure those waiting can enter the panda house before it closes. If crowds are heavy, the line may close as early as 4 p.m.
  • Flash photography and video are welcome, but please refrain from setting up tripods, or other stationary equipment.

On high visitation days, Asia Trail will be open to one-way traffic only. Visitors will enter Asia Trail at the sloth bear exhibit, near the Connecticut Avenue pedestrian entrance. Those visiting Bao Bao will be asked to line up outside the giant panda house in front of the panda yards. For the safety of our guests, animals, and staff, visitors will be allowed into the panda house in small groups to avoid overcrowding.

Visitors will enter the panda house from the west entrance, by the red panda exhibit, and exit the east entrance. After leaving the panda house, visitors will exit Asia Trail near Panda Plaza.

May 11

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This giant panda update was written by keeper Nicole MacCorkle.

Bao Bao has had just over a month to explore "her" yard, and she is already picking out some favorite spots. She often eats next to the glass on the lower viewing level. That spot is a favorite for keepers too, since it is just below the bamboo shed. It's a convenient place to feed her without calling her out of the yard—bamboo simply drops down from overhead! She also likes to rest and play in a maple tree towards the middle of her yard. Even more exciting, her waterfall and pool just got filled for the season, giving her endless splashing and playing opportunities for the warm days ahead. Like our other panda yards, Yard 3 (which Bao Bao is currently occupies) has other cooling features as well, including misters and a cooled grotto. Since Bao Bao has acclimated to her yard and breeding season is behind us, visitors will again notice that the pandas will be rotating through each of the yards on a more regular basis. That means Mei Xiang will have a chance to graze on the bamboo shoots sprouting along the fence line in Yard 1 (the yard Tian Tian usually occupies); Tian Tian will be able to splash in the waterfall in Yard 3; and Bao Bao will be able to reunite with her beloved hemlock in Yard 2 (the yard Mei Xiang usually occupies) for a nice nap!

Read previous panda updates.