Are There Giant Pandas in the United States? (Updated 2022)

Giant pandas usually live in zoos outside their homeland, China. However, do zoos in the US keep pandas too? 

In short – Are there giant pandas in the United States?

Yes! There are giant pandas in the United States. Presently, only three zoos have giant pandas in the US. 

They are the Smithsonian National Zoo, Memphis Zoo, and Zoo Atlanta. Moreover, the San Diego zoo in the US originally had giant pandas. 

However, the zoo returned the pandas to China after the 23-year loan agreement expired.

But there’s more than knowing that the US has pandas.

So, let’s discuss each zoo in detail to learn more about their pandas!

Read on to know more…

Zoos in the US (with Giant Pandas)

Smithsonian National Zoological Park

The Smithsonian National zoo has been leading in the affairs of giant panda conservation and research. 

Over the years, they’ve helped grow the giant panda population by raising more panda cubs in the zoo.

Originally, when China gifted giant pandas to countries, the United States was among these fortunate countries. The first giant pandas in the US came to the Smithsonian zoo. 

Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling (First Giant Pandas in the US)

The giant pandas were Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling. Unfortunately, all the cubs the two pandas produced never survived. 

These pandas were gifts from china and not on any loan agreement. This means there were no fees attached to having a giant panda in a zoo at that time. 

Meet Tian Tian and Mei Xiang

After Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling passed away, the zoo got more pandas. However, this time, it was under loan agreements with China. 

The giant pandas were Tian Tian (male) and Mei Xiang (female). These are the adult pandas you’ll find in the zoo today.

The two pandas came to Washington from China on December 6, 2000. This was on a 10-year loan agreement. 

The two pandas have been breeding many cubs together. The surviving cubs of Tian Tian and Mei Xiang are Tai Shan, Bao Bao, Bei Bei, and Xiao Qi Ji.

Over the years, giant pandas have become the most popular animals living in the Smithsonian national zoo.

Smithsonian Zoo Information:

Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, United States


Phone No.: +1 202-633-4888

How to See Giant pandas in Smithsonian National Zoo:

STEP 1: Get your entry passes (tickets). The entry pass is FREE for all visitors. All you need to do is to reserve them online before you visit the zoo.

STEP 2: When you get to the zoo, you should go over to the part of the zoo known as ”the Asia trail”. This is the home of all pandas in the zoo.

Alternatively, you can also see a panda in the Smithsonian National Zoo without visiting the zoo. This is through the zoo’s giant panda Cam.

Visit the Panda Cam section on the website to see live recordings of giant pandas in the zoo.

Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo in the US aims at saving many animals from going extinct. Giant pandas are one of the most important animals in this zoo.

The giant pandas you’ll find in the Memphis Zoo also came from China on loan and not as gifts. Moreover, the zoo, through their giant pandas have helped in giant panda conservation

Meet Le Le and Ya Ya

Le Le (male) and Ya Ya (female) are the first and only giant pandas in the zoo. They both came from China in 2003 on a 10-year loan agreement.

Le Le was 5 years of age and Ya Ya, was just 4 years old when they came to the zoo. In 2013, the zoo renewed the giant panda contract with China. 

This means the giant pandas will stay till 2023 – another 10-year agreement. Currently, these giant pandas have lived in the Memphis zoo for 19 years. 

However, they have produced no cubs in the zoo so far. But it’s amazing how the zoo, through Le Le, contributes to growing the panda population. 

The zoo collects genetic samples (reproductive) from Le Le and sends them to China. They do this every breeding season.

Breeding centers in China use these samples to produce more healthy panda cubs.

Memphis Zoo Information :

Address: 2000 Prentiss PI, Memphis, TN 38112, United States


Phone No: +1 901-333-6500

How to See Giant Pandas In the Memphis Zoo:

STEP 1: You should, first of all, get tickets online from the website. 

STEP 2: After getting your tickets, head over to the zoo. In the zoo, you can see giant pandas in the part known as “the China Exhibit”.

However, if you can’t visit the zoo physically, there’s also an alternative. The zoo has Panda Cams on its website – a virtual way to see giant pandas in the zoo. 

With Memphis zoo’s live Panda Cam, you can watch their giant panda from anywhere. The Panda Cam is very easy to find online.

It’s just the first animal cam on the website. See Memphis Zoo Panda Cams here.

Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta is also one of the zoos in the United States with giant pandas. They also got their giant pandas from China under loan agreements. 

This zoo has been the most successful zoo in the US when it comes to breeding pandas. They have the most surviving cubs born in the zoo.

Meet Yang Yang and Lun Lun

Yang Yang (male) and Lun Lun (female) came to the zoo in Atlanta in November 1999. Interestingly, the zoo has produced the most panda cubs so far in the US. 

The couple has had up to seven panda cubs together:

  • Mei Lan (1st Cub – male).
  • Xi Lan
  • Po

The couple then had their twin female panda cubs – Mei Lun and Mei Huan. They are the first twin pandas in the whole of the United States. 

Interestingly, Lun Lun and Yang Yang had their second set of twin panda cubs, Ya Lun and Xi Lun. They were also females. 

Moreover, they are the only twin pandas you’ll find in the US currently. This is because the first wins and the other three cubs have been sent to China. 

Presently, zoo Atlanta still has the highest number of giant pandas in the US. That’s remarkable!

Zoo Atlanta Information:

Address: 800 Cherokee Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30325, United States


Phone No.: +1 404-624-5600

How to See Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta:

STEP 1: Get your admission tickets. This is the main thing you need to see a panda in zoo Atlanta. You can get them online on the zoo’s website.

STEP 2: Visit zoo Atlanta. With your tickets, you’ll be allowed inside the zoo to see the giant pandas there.

The zoo also has its Panda Cams on its website. This way, people around the world can see giant pandas in the zoo any time and day.

Final Thoughts

In summary, there are giant pandas in the United States. You’ll find them in three different zoos in the US.

They are the Smithsonian national zoo, the Memphis Zoo, and the Atlanta zoo. You should also know that all these zoos contribute in many ways to help save giant pandas. 

However, the Smithsonian zoo is the leading zoo in conserving giant pandas in the US. However, zoo Atlanta remains the zoo with the most giant pandas in the US.

We’ve provided information about these zoos in this article, especially how you can see a panda in each of them.

You can also check up on other zoos with giant pandas. 

Read our full article – “What Zoos Have Giant Pandas?” to explore many more giant panda zoos.