3 Amazing Zoos With Pandas (1 in the US…But Not for Long!) in 2024

Written by Lev Baker
Updated: October 29, 2023
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Get ready to enter the world of black-and-white fluffiness that is the enchanting giant panda! These beloved creatures are a gorgeous sight. Visit one of these zoos to view the gentle giants in person. Watch them munch on bamboo or lazily lounge in their habitat. You don’t have to travel all the way to China to do so, as the US is home to two zoos that house these majestic creatures but not for long. 

Although pandas are rarely housed outside of China, you can still see them in person within the United States. These mystical bears currently live at only three select zoos, making each sighting a truly special experience.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo (Washington, DC)

©Quadell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

A premier destination for animal lovers, The Smithsonian’s National Zoo, located in Washington, D.C. has had a long history of caring for giant pandas. 

Since 1972, the zoo has been home to pandas. Its team of scientists has been studying their behavior, biology, disease, reproduction, habitat, and ecology for over 50 years. The zoo also works closely with colleagues in China to advance conservation efforts for these endangered animals.

Tian Tian, an adult male, and Mei Xiang, an adult female, lived at the zoo. They were both born in the late-90s. The youngest addition is male panda cub Xiao Qi Ji, born in 2020. Previous cubs, Bei Bei, Tai Shan, and Bao Bao, relocated to China when they turned four, as per the agreement with China. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian were under contract to remain at the zoo until December 2023. A recent update from the zoo confirmed: Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and Xiao Qi Ji have departed from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and are now living in China. Which means, all the pandas have been relocated to China.

While the pandas were the star attraction, the National Zoo has a wealth of other animals and habitats to discover. It’s home to around 400 species of animals, and popular exhibits include Primates, Great Cats, and Elephant Trails.

One of the best things about the National Zoo is that admission is free!

Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta entrance

Zoo Atlanta is home to a famous pair of pandas–Yang Yang and Lun Lun.

©Rob Hainer/Shutterstock.com

Nestled in the heart of picturesque Grant Park, Zoo Atlanta is a must-see destination for animal lovers and conservation enthusiasts. As one of the city’s most loved attractions, the zoo is just a stone’s throw away from Atlanta’s bustling metropolis. However, it feels worlds apart from any large city.

As a world-class conservation organization, Zoo Atlanta is committed to educating the public about the importance of animal conservation. In terms of endangered species, the zoo’s most iconic residents are the giant pandas. 

Zoo Atlanta is the only U.S. zoo that has pandas. It is home to a dynamic panda duo, Yang Yang and Lun Lun. Both were born in 1997 in China, and they have successfully bred seven cubs together. However, as per the agreement with China, all of the cubs have been returned to their country of origin.

Experience the wonder of giant pandas up close with Zoo Atlanta’s Giant Panda Wild Encounter. This separate ticketed option includes an interactive educational program. Visitors can learn about these magnificent animals and even have the chance to feed one.

Zoo Atlanta features a diverse range of exhibits, including the Scaly Slimy Spectacular, where visitors can discover an array of fascinating reptiles and amphibians. Another must-see exhibit is the African Savanna, where guests can witness majestic giraffes and elephants in their natural habitat. 

Zoo Atlanta offers a variety of admission options to suit your needs. Prices vary depending on the date of your visit. To make the most of your experience, it’s recommended to plan ahead and purchase your tickets in advance. 

And please remember, by 2024, Zoo Atlanta reports that their contracts for the twin pandas Ya Lun and Xi Lun will be up as well. 

Get Close To Pandas In China

There’s no better place to witness the majesty of pandas than in their native country. Check out these eastern zoos that get up close and personal with the adorable creatures.

Dujiangyan Panda Base

The Dujiangyan Panda Base has a population of about 20 pandas.

©Laika ac / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

For those looking for a truly unique experience, visiting pandas in their natural habitat in China is a must. The Dujiangyan Panda Base is located just 41 miles from the city of Chengdu.

With a population of around 40 giant pandas and 5 red pandas, the base offers a variety of activities, including panda viewing. You’ll also have the opportunity to join a one-day volunteer program as a panda keeper. Here, you will assist in their daily care, including cleaning their enclosures, preparing their food, and even hand-feeding them!

This base is the perfect place for truly panda-obsessed people! Dujiangyan Panda Base will help you gain a deeper understanding of the care and conservation necessary to aid these amazing creatures.

Giant Panda Breeding Research Base

The Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base features adorable newborns and one-year-old panda cubs.

©Ruud Zwart / CC BY-SA 2.5 nl – License

Located just 40 minutes outside of Chengdu, the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base offers the rare opportunity to see over 150 giant pandas! The base is specially designed for the breeding, research, and care of baby pandas, making it the perfect destination for families with little kids.

One of the highlights of visiting the base is the chance to see adorable newborns and playful one-year-old panda cubs. September is the best time to witness their cuteness and energy as they play in the panda playground. You’ll have the chance to see them snoozing on tree stumps, frolicking with one another, or munching on bamboo shoots.

Additionally, the base also offers the opportunity to watch panda-breeding movies that provide an in-depth look into the lives of these peaceful creatures. The time commitment is about half a day.

Where Else Can You See Pandas?

Outside of China, there are currently 27 zoos located in 21 countries that have giant pandas. The countries that have pandas are:

  • Australia (Adelaide Zoo)
  • Austria (Vienna Zoo)
  • Belgium (Pairi Daiza Zoo)
  • Denmark (Copenhagen Zoo)
  • Finland (Korkeasaari Zoo)
  • France (Beauval Zoo)
  • Germany (Berlin Zoo)
  • Indonesia (Taman Safari Indonesia Wildlife Park)
  • Japan (Ueno Zoo, Adventure World, Kobe Oji Zoo, Kobe)
  • Malaysia (Zoo Negara Malaysia)
  • Mexico (Chapultepec Zoo)
  • The Netherlands (Ouwehands Zoo)
  • Russia (Moskovsky Zoopark)
  • Singapore (Mandai Wildlife Reserve)
  • South Korea (Everland Theme Park)
  • Spain (Zoo Aquarium de Madrid)
  • Taiwan (Taipei Zoo)
  • Thailand (Chiang Mai Zoo)
  • The United Kingdom (Edinburgh Zoo)
  • Qatar (Al Khor Family Park)

Summary of 3 Amazing Zoos With Pandas (Only 2 in the US!)

1Zoo AtlantaUnited States
2Dujiangyan Panda BaseChina
3Giant Panda Breeding Research BaseChina

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How many zoos in the world have pandas?

There are currently 27 zoos located in 21 countries that have giant pandas. All the pandas were gifted to these countries by the Chinese government.

Are pandas endangered?

Giant pandas are currently labeled as vulnerable. For many years the species was endangered, however, conservation organizations have worked hard to halt the decline in the panda population.

How many pandas are left?

There are an estimated 1,800 pandas left in the wild in China.

Why do cubs go back to china?

Any panda cubs born away from china are returned to the country within 4 years and introduced to the Chinese giant panda breeding program.

Does China own all the pandas?

Every panda in the world is technically owned by the Chinese government. China lends pandas to certain countries for a predetermined period and the countries must return the pandas afterward, as well as any cubs birthed by the pandas.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.