I Can Remember Every Detail

Submitted by Kathleen H. of Raleigh, North Carolina

"I was seven years old when the pandas first came to the Zoo. I remember watching the news and trying to memorize every detail, every bit of information that was shared about “our” giant pandas! To make it even more special, my grandfather took me out of school in late April of 1972, to go and visit Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing! It was magical! I can remember every detail! I remember what I wore, what I ate- I can still close my eyes and see the balloon that my Grandpop brought for me! I stood at that observation window for as long as we could. As I watched, a Chinese-American girl stepped up beside me and in typical seven-year-old fashion we stared chatting, and the girl told me that her grandfather had brought her there and she taught me what the names meant. I will never forget that Ling-Ling meant “darling little girl."  

Visiting the pandas over the years is one of my favorite childhood memories. I continued to visit as I grew up—from school field trips, family visits, to going on dates there. I even remember being riveted by the news as the pair went through their infertility woes. 

I was lucky enough to bring my own children to the zoo to see “my pandas” in 1992—just before Ling-Ling died. THANK YOU National Zoo, for making these special memories possible—and for working so hard to keep “my pandas” so happy and healthy! I have been a FONZ (Friend of the National Zoo) all of my life. "

Image credit: Smithsonian

The Panda Memories Project

In September 2023, the Zoo invited members of the public to share their favorite moments with Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, Xiao Qi Ji and the rest of the pandas that have called Washington D.C., home. Here are their stories.