Zoo Atlanta’s first set of giant panda twins, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, are heading to China, and their departure date was announced this morning.
The three-year-old bears, the first surviving pair of giant panda twins ever born in the U.S., will depart Atlanta on Nov. 3 for the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. The twins will follow in the footsteps of their older siblings as they prepare to journey to their parents’ birthplace.
The giant pandas at Zoo Atlanta are on loan from China. As part of the Zoo’s loan agreement, all of the offspring of the adult pair Lun Lun and Yang Yang eventually travel to China. Mei Lun and Mei Huan, who will be the fourth and fifth Zoo Atlanta-born pandas to make the trip, will be accompanied on their flight by two Zoo Atlanta staff.
Their older siblings Mei Lan, Xi Lan and Po, have already traveled to China, to the research facility in the Sichuan province.
Zoo Atlanta is unique in that, unlike any other zoo facility in the U.S., Atlanta has successfully reared panda twins. Twice. Mei Lun and Mei Huan’s younger siblings, who are still unnamed, will celebrate their second month as their older siblings are leaving.
The zoo plans to give Mei Lun and Mei Huan a giant send-off. There will be special treats for the pandas at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, during the zoo’s Halloween-themed “Boo at the Zoo” event. Fans can sign Bon Voyage postcards for the pair on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 29 and 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Their younger siblings, born Sept. 3, are gaining weight and growing up. Zoo officials say the younger twins have opened their eyes, and should go on public display in December or January.