The Best Is Yet to Come

If you’ve ever experienced the birth or adoption of a loved one, or a reunion with a long-lost relative, you may remember what it’s like to anticipate the moment when you finally get to meet them. The excitement surrounding what they might look like, what kind of personality they’ll have, and the thought of bonding with them creates joyful anticipation almost as memorable as the event itself. Part of what’s so thrilling is knowing that it’s just the first of many memorable moments yet to come—moments that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

After many months of behind-the-scenes collaboration and preparation, we’re honored to share with you that we’re embarking upon a new journey of love and commitment in caring for two giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Our international allies in conservation, China Wildlife Conservation Association, introduced us to Yun Chuan and Xin Bao recently in China, and it’s with great anticipation that we look forward to introducing them to you at the San Diego Zoo. We’re eager to share with you just how remarkable they both are, and to work together to advance panda conservation for generations to come.

Yun Chuan

At almost five years old, Yun Chuan (pronounced “yoon chu-an”) is an active male, but is known to be quite gentle. “Yun” means “cloud” in Chinese and seems to suit his peaceful nature. His name originates with his maternal grandmother, Bai Yun, who we had the honor of caring for along with his grandfather, Gao Gao, at the San Diego Zoo in the early 2000s. We celebrated the birth of his mother, Zhen Zhen, here in 2007. The second part of his name, Chuan, means “big river,” and is a nod to the province of Sichuan, where he’s from. Together, his name means “big river of cloud,” reminding us of the flowing clouds that often shroud the forests where giant pandas live in the mountains of southwestern China.

Yun Chuan, a nearly five-year-old male giant panda, eats a piece of bamboo.

Wildlife care specialists from Wolong Shenshuping Panda Base describe Yun Chuan as kind, clever, and sensitive to others. They say he’s serious about his bamboo but mild-mannered toward others, always letting other pandas go first. When he sees a meal has arrived but has not yet spotted wildlife care specialists, he will hum gently to get their attention. He’s also known for taking his time to rouse himself from sleep. Wildlife care specialists say Yun Chuan often sleeps in, takes long afternoon naps, and sits for a long while after waking up. He’s affectionately called “Chuan Chuan” and can be distinguished by his long, slightly pointed, nose tip.

Xin Bao

The second giant panda we have the opportunity to welcome is Xin Bao (pronounced “sing bao”), a nearly four-year-old female. Wildlife care specialists describe her as very active, alert, witty, and an excellent climber. They say she’s naturally playful and will even roughhouse a bit with some of the other pandas. A large, round face and big ears help set her apart from other pandas.  

Female giant panda Xin Bao sits perched in a tree.

“Xin Bao” means a “new treasure of prosperity and abundance.” Giant pandas often symbolize wildlife conservation, peace, and friendship, but her name also reminds us that in Chinese culture, pandas also symbolize blessings and success. Her name will no doubt remind us that it’s an honor to play a part in her success and to help giant pandas thrive, both here and in China.

As our team members continue to spend time with Yun Chuan and Xin Bao in China, we look forward to sharing more of our experiences with you, our allies in conservation. Truly, the best is yet to come—both in our journeys with Yun Chuan and Xin Bao, and in the future for giant pandas.

Thank you for your support as an ally for wildlife. As we continue our conservation work together, milestone moments like these reignite our hope for the future of the world’s biodiversity, and for creating a world where all life thrives.

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