A precious gift at an unusual time
By Tao Zihui  ·  2020-09-09  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

This undated file photo provided by Smithsonian's National Zoo shows giant panda Mei Xiang at the zoo in Washington, D.C., the United States (XINHUA) 

August 22 was a day of joy and excitement for giant panda lovers. Mei Xiang, a 22-year-old giant panda gave birth to a miracle cub at the U.S. Smithsonians National Zoo. It is the seventh baby panda since she and male giant panda Tian Tian began living in the zoo in 2000. Three of her cubs have survived to adulthood. 

Moment of pure joy 

Giant panda are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and with the birth of this precious cub we are thrilled to offer the world a much-needed moment of pure joy, said Steve Monfort, Director of the Smithsonians National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. As an endangered species, the birth of every panda in the world holds special significance. The birth is considered a miracle for the 22-year-old Mei Xiang, which means beautiful fragrance in Chinese. The female panda, who came to the country in 2000, is the oldest giant panda in the U.S. and the second-oldest documented in the world to give birth, which was a surprise even for professionals, considering a very low fertility rate for giant pandas. Pandas are an endangered species, so every panda on the planet means something, and it is important," according to Brandie Smith, the zoo's deputy director. 

Communication and cultural exchange 

This is part of our bigger program, where its not just about breeding cubs in zoos and educating people about giant pandas, but its also about conservation work we do in the wild,she added. 

According to Smith, the birth of Mei Xiang implies the people-to-people cooperation and biodiversity conservation between the countries have been going well. More than that, the mutual understanding between China and the U.S. can also be promoted. For instance, the U.S. National Zoo, located in Northwest Washington, D.C., has a cooperative agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. Our colleagues in China were some of the first people we contacted when the cub was born. They have a lot of experience with cubs given that there are so many pandas that are born in the panda breeding centers in China. So we always look to them for advice and assistance, Smith said. Part of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution, the national zoo has a decades-long partnership with Chinese scientists and curators on conserving giant pandas. 

For decades, the animal has never failed in its duty as Chinas ambassador of friendship and has won hearts of thousands of fans worldwide. 

A 2012 BBC documentary titled Wild about Pandas presents the story of two giant pandas, Sunshine and Tiantian, traveling from China to Britain. These two adorable giant pandas are loved by the British people and represent the friendship between these two countries. 

Since 2008, the movie series Kung Fu Panda has become more and more popular around the world. It has also boosted Chinas international image, as Kung Fu Panda represents Chinese wisdom and courage. What is more, China is looking forward to seeing Kung Fu Panda cooperate with its partners to build a community with a shared future for mankind, creating a bright tomorrow for all. 

Last year, Bing Dwen Dwen, a cheerful giant panda was unveiled as the official mascot for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. The mascot is expected to connect and bring joy to people participating in and watching the Olympic Winter Games from all over the world. 

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai extended his congratulations to Mei Xiang and the National Zoo on the birth of the new giant panda cub, the third he has welcomed there. The giant panda cub is a beautiful fruit of Sino-American friendship and an important achievement in bilateral cooperation in biodiversity conservation and cultural exchanges. The healthy, cute and ingenuous giant panda is seen as a precious gift again at this unusual time. For 20 years, Mei Xiang and her kids have been adorable witnesses of China-U.S. cooperation and a constant source of joy for the Americans, Cui wrote, A precious gift at this unusual time. 

Copyedited by Madhusudan Chaubey 

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