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Pandas Go Back

Tian Tian takes a walk in the grass at the National Zoo in September. MARVIN JOSEPH—THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

Soon, there won’t be any pandas left in zoos in the United States. They are all being sent back to China.

For 50 years, China loaned pandas to the U.S. It was an act of friendship. But now, China is taking its pandas back.

“We are going to miss these bears,” Trish Jarvis told TIME for Kids. She’s an animal keeper at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. That’s in Washington, D.C. The zoo had three pandas. It sent them back to China last month.

TFK Kid Reporter Ben Stern meets with zookeeper Trish Jarvis at the National Zoo in November.


Flying Away

China first sent pandas to the U.S. in 1972. They went to live at the National Zoo. The giant panda used to be an endangered species. But seeing them at the zoo “gets people excited about saving this bear,” Jarvis says.

The Smithsonian’s bears traveled to China on a plane. They were tucked away safely in crates.

Jarvis says she’ll always value her relationship with them. “Every bear is different,” she says. “They’re like any other animal—your dog or cat. They have a personality.”