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National Zoo's giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to have an extended stay in U.S.

December 23, 2010 |  1:10 pm

giant pandas WASHINGTON — Washington's pandas will stay at the National Zoo at least a little while longer.

Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) are on a 10-year, $10-million loan from China that expires at the end this year. The Smithsonian's National Zoo continues to negotiate a new agreement for panda breeding and research.

Zoo spokeswoman Karin Korpowski-Gallo said Wednesday that China has granted a temporary extension for Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to remain until a new agreement is signed. Officials expect one in January.

Pandas have a long history in Washington. The first panda couple, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing (sing-sing), arrived in 1972 after President Nixon's historic visit to China, and lived more than 20 years at the zoo.

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-- Brett Zongker, Associated Press

Photo: Tian Tian, left, and Mei Ziang play in their enclosure at the National Zoo in 2007. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

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