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Share Your Panda Memories

Nine members of the panda keeper team, who are smiling and dressed for cold weather, at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

For over 50 years, the giant pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation and Biology Institute have delighted and inspired visitors from across the globe.

In September 2023, we 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. Hundreds of online visitors responded with warm, funny, thought-provoking and bittersweet memories of these beloved bears. Here are a few of their stories:

  • Photo of a vintage newspaper with a headline that reads "Collins Heads Panda Unit".
    "My father, Larry Collins, was the first head keeper in charge of Ling Ling and Hsing-Hsing..."
  • Photo of a smiling young man and woman dressed for winter weather standing next to a larger-than-life sized decorative panda with a Zoolights sign on its chest.
    "When I was in my mid-20s and living in Mount Pleasant, I loved taking long runs to and then through the National Zoo..."
  • Two pictures of Zoo visitor Andie H., pictured on the left as a child and on the right as an adult, with pandas behind her.
    "The first time I saw pandas was back in 2004 when I was 11 years old and then I got to see them in 2022 at 29 at the Smithsonian..."
  • Giant pandas Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing touch noses. One of them is standing on a wooden platform and the other is climbing the steps of the platform
    "I was seven years old when the pandas first came to the Zoo. I remember watching the news and trying to memorize every detail..."
  • A plaque on a bench with the words "In loving memory of National Zoo volunteer Elaine A. Washburn from her friends and family."
    "My mother, Elaine Washburn, was an Asia Trail volunteer interpreter in the early 2000's. Mom had been a docent at the Ross Park Zoo in our hometown..."