Today, Zoo Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem, Zoological Curator Dr. Ragnar Kühne and Kieran Stanley, the manager of the architecture office dan pearlman Experience Architecture, are traveling to Beijing. The goal of the trip is to hold initial talks about moving a panda bear couple to Berlin.
As Chancellor Angela Merkel already announced during her state visit to China in October 2015, the Berlin Zoo will again receive pandas. Since then, plans for a spacious new panda facility have been in full swing. Along with the experienced architects from dan pearlman, a species-appropriate as well as natural-seeming home will be created for the bears, the likeable ambassadors of species protection.
"We hope that sometime in this year, we can break ground for the new panda habitat, so that we can bring the bears to Berlin next year“, said Zoo Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem, pleased. "In Beijing, with the Chinese authorities, we will decide which animals we will receive and, more importantly, when we can bring the pandas to Berlin."
The Berlin Zoo has decades of experience in the keeping of pandas. Inspired by the architecture of the former Chinese music pavilion, the new home for the bears will be where the current deer areal is located.
Following the stay in Beijing, the zoo delegation will visit the new panda habitat by dan pearlman architects in Seoul. This habitat was recently opened on 21 April 2016.
On 5 November 1980, the first panda couple, Bao Bao and Tjen Tjen– born in China in 1978 – arrived in Berlin as a state gift from the Premier of China, Hua Guofeng, to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. After the death of female panda Tjen Tjen, or "Little Heaven" in English, in February 1984, Bao Bao (English: "Little Treasure") lived as a bachelor in the capital city.
In April 1995, Yan Yan, “The Beautiful“, came as a loan from Beijing to the Berlin Zoo. In front of the gates of the zoo, there was an extremely long line of visitors, all of whom wanted to see the new love interest at Bao Bao's side in the capital city. The two were supposed to quickly provide panda offspring, but the hoped-for blessing of a baby remained, despite many attempts, unfulfilled. On 26 March 2007, "The Beautiful" died at the age of 22 years of constipation.
On 22 August 2012, at the old age of 34, Bao Bao was also laid to rest. Until that time, the proud bear was the oldest male panda in the world.
Until the summer of 2015, Yan Yan was visible at the side of her partner Bao Bao (1978 - 2012) in the special “PANDA“ exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin – a worthy goodbye for both zoo favourites.
Pandas are members of the family of large bears. At one point, they lived from the north eastern part of China to Myanmar and Vietnam. Today, the herbivores are only found in the light deciduous forests and coniferous forests of the Chinese mountain regions around the provinces of Szechuan, Shaanxi and Guangzhou. As the last wide-scale panda census shows, in 2014, at least 1,864 animals were living in the wild, 17% more than in 2004 (according to SFA, the State Forestry Administration of China). Despite all efforts to protect the animals, their survival in the wild is still not protected – in fact, in the Red List of Threatened Species published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Giant Panda is listed as endangered.