Washington The National Zoo has received a federal permit that clears the way for two giant pandas to come over from China for the next 10 years.
Zoo officials called a news conference for Tuesday to provide more information about the trip that Mei Xiang, a 2 1/2-year-old female, and Tian Tian, a 3 1/2-year-old male, will make from the Wolong Reserve in China's Sichuan Province, where they were born in captivity.
The pandas' arrival is part of a 10-year, $10 million loan arrangement between the zoo and the Chinese government. The money will go to China for conservation projects. Any cub born at the zoo also would become Chinese property. The bears will be sheltered in a panda house renovated at a cost of $2 million.
The importation permit, granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was the final hurdle for the zoo to clear. In September, Fish and Wildlife extended the public comment period for the zoo's permit application, mainly to address concerns that the money going to China will promote the survival of the panda in the wild, the central goal of U.S. and international panda policy.
Only about 1,000 pandas remain in China's mountain forests.