China plans to send San Diego Zoo more pandas this year, reintroducing panda diplomacy

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HONG KONG — China will send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo this year, in a boost for what is known as “panda diplomacy” after U.S. zoos were left with almost none of the beloved black-and-white bears amid a deterioration in ties between the two superpowers.

The China Wildlife Conservation Association has reached agreements with the San Diego Zoo as well as the Madrid Zoo in Spain on “a new round of international cooperation for giant panda conservation,” Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, reported Thursday.

It is also in talks with the National Zoo in Washington and the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna, the agency said.

Megan Owen, vice president of wildlife conservation science at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, which runs the zoo, told The Associated Press that the two pandas, one male and one female, could arrive as early as the end of summer.