By City News Service
Two giant pandas born at the San Diego Zoo, now 3 and 5 years old, will be sent to China at the end of the summer, it was announced Tuesday.
Su Lin, born in 2005, and Zhen Zhen, born in 2007, will be sent to the Wolong Nature Reserve Giant Panda Bi Feng Xia center, where they will be part of a conservation breeding program there, according to the zoo.
"We will miss Su Lin and Zhen Zhen, but as a conservation organization we are aware of the significant breeding contributions they will make in the preservation of this critically endangered species at another panda conservation center such as Bi Feng Zia," said Carmi Penny, co-head of the San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda Conservation unit.
Su Lin and Zhen Zhen will join two of their siblings already residing at the Bi Feng Xia facility.
Hua Mei, born in 1999, was sent to China in 2004, and Mei Sheng, born in 2003, was sent to the conservation center three years later.
The pandas are among five born at the San Diego Zoo to Bai Yun.
Pandas born at the zoo are considered on loan from China and must be returned after their third birthday.
According to the zoo, Su Lin and Zhen Zhen will be accompanied on their journey to China by two seasoned panda team members including an animal care supervisor and senior veterinarian.
They will be removed from public viewing on Monday, according to the zoo.
Bai Yun, her 1-year-old cub, Yun Zi, and father, Gao Gao, will remain at the San Diego Zoo.