SAN DIEGO, CA- Some furry friends are leaving California for China.
The San Diego Zoo says it is sad its popular pandas are getting ready to leave.
But, on some level, the fact that they are leaving is a reflection of the progress the species has made over the years.
Visitors wait in line in hopes to get a glimpse of 6-year-old Xiao Liwu, born at the San Diego Zoo.
The baby panda was seen putting on a show, gorging on bamboo and strutting around panda canyon to the delight of visitors.
“... We have a great zoo in Omaha but we don’t have pandas,” said zoo visitor John Mareda
And now John Mareda is feeling even luckier that he got to see Xiao Liwu and his 27-year-old mother Bai Yun - who was brought to San Diego over two decades ago.
Bai Yun's first baby was the first to be born and survive in the United States.
There have been a total of six live births here.
“Our agreement with the Chinese came to a conclusion, like with all good things sometimes they come to an end or an intermission,”Carmi Penny, of Husbandry Science
When they first teamed up with the Chinese 25 years ago, the species was expected to go instinct.
Their status has since been downgraded from endangered to vulnerable, meaning the zoo accomplished what it set out to do.
While teaching the Chinese about raising babies and improved medical care.
"We're going to be sad, they're going to be sad, we understand sad for our to staff to come and not have pandas here, but we want people to come celebrate pandas and what we've been able to do for the pandas,” said Shawn Dixon San Diego Zoo global
Shawn Dixon, chief operating officer of San Diego Zoo global, says they'll leave the exhibit for now because are hoping to bring new pandas to San Diego, in talks now with the Chinese to try and make it happen.
"But it has to be how do we help conservation, how do we help conservation, how do we help the species," said Dixon.
And in the meantime, they'll celebrate the pandas and the years of hard work keeping the species alive.