Victory! Suffering Memphis Zoo Pandas Will Return Home to China
We, along with Panda Voices and thousands of animal advocates worldwide, are celebrating the news that the suffering giant pandas at the Memphis Zoo will be returned home to China in the next few months.
Nearly two years ago, we joined the grassroots organization Panda Voices to campaign for the pandas’ release from the zoo. YaYa and LeLe have been suffering at the Memphis Zoo since 2003. The pandas are visibly distressed and malnourished and have spent their days pacing or sleeping, clearly bored in their dirty, small enclosure. YaYa has a chronic skin condition, and LeLe has significant teeth issues resulting in broken molars.
Together we wrote letters, published action alerts and media releases, and gained endorsements from Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, and pop musician Billie Eilish. We worked tirelessly to expose the pandas’ suffering and made repeated attempts to meet with the Memphis Zoo President to address our concerns.
Our most recent alert published on Nov. 18, 2022, urged authorities to send the pandas back to China when the zoo’s loan contract ends in April 2023. Over 32,000 people supported the alert. A previous alert for the pandas published in the summer of 2021 gained over 88,000 signatures. In total, our supporters sent over 1 million emails to decision-makers on behalf of the pandas.
After far too many years in a grossly inappropriate zoo exhibit, YaYa and LeLe will finally get improved care at a specialized panda center in their homeland. We applaud the Memphis Zoo and Chinese authorities for making the ethical decision to return them to China once the loan contract ends in April 2023. We thank Billie Eilish and our many thousands of supporters worldwide for helping us push the zoo to do the right thing. We are delighted to celebrate this momentous victory and we look forward to seeing the pandas live a life of peace and better care in China.