ATLANTA, GA — It’s birthday season for Atlanta’s four panda residents and, on Friday, Zoo Atlanta is throwing them a party.
All four of the giant pandas at Zoo Atlanta have birthdays in August or early September. Adult female Lun Lun turned 21 on Aug. 25 and adult male Yang Yang turns 21 on Sept. 9. Their offspring, twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun, will turn 2 years old on Sept. 3.
The twins will be honored with an early birthday celebration on Friday, Aug. 31. They’ll get some birthday surprises — probably including some of their favorite foods — at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the zoo’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.
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Born 47 minutes apart on Sept. 3, 2016, Ya Lun and Xi Lun are the only giant panda twins in the United States and are Lun Lun and Yang Yang’s sixth and seventh children.
They are ambassadors for Zoo Atlanta’s most significant long-term investment in wildlife conservation. Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Of those, more than 1,200 live inside nature reserves and eight of those reserves have been supported by Zoo Atlanta.
Giant pandas were downgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2016, but their survival remains heavily reliant on conservation programs, zoo officials say. Zoo Atlanta has contributed more than $10 million in support of wild giant pandas in China and has provided support for reforestation projects, conservation education programs, giant panda nurseries, field research programs and supplies.
The birthday-season celebration will continue into next month. Panda Fan Appreciation Week will be observed from Sept. 3-7 on the zoo’s PandaCam. Throughout the week, fans may vote daily on Zoo Atlanta’s Facebook page on enrichment items for the giant pandas, who will receive the winning items live on PandaCam during each day of the celebration.
Enrichment can take the form of special objects, foods, puzzles or activities for the pandas.
Fans may also support the giant pandas through a limited-time “Life Is Better With Pandas” t-shirt campaign on the zoo’s website. All profits from the shirts support Zoo Atlanta. T-shirt sales end Sept. 14.
Photo courtesy Zoo Atlanta
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