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US zoo pandas get $4.5 million gift

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 19, 2015 | Last Updated: 4 years ago
Posted: Sep 19, 2015 | Last Updated: 4 years ago
US zoo pandas get $4.5 million gift

Seven-month-old giant panda Xing Bao (Treasure Star or Father's Treasure in Mandarin) explores its new enclosure with its mother giant Panda Hua Zui Ba at the Zoo Aquarium in Madrid on April 9, 2014.  Xing Bao was the fourth panda cub to be born in the zoo.    AFP PHOTO / GERARD JULIEN

WASHINGTON: An American benefactor has donated $4.5 million for the giant panda conservation program at the US National Zoo, where twin cubs were born last month.

David Rubenstein, a co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group asset management firm, pledged to fund the Washington-based program through 2020.

The zoo is home to female giant panda Mei Xiang, adult male Tian Tian, female two-year-old Bao Bao and an unnamed male cub born on August 22. His twin died of pneumonia within a week of birth.

“The National Zoo’s panda program has been a remarkable success — two healthy pandas in just two years — and I am pleased to support it for another five years,” Rubenstein said in statement issued by the zoo.

The zoo’s panda habitat — its star attraction — is named after the Rubenstein family in recognition of a previous donation to the program made in 2011.

Eleven conservation biologists have also been awarded fellowships funded by Rubenstein to study pandas in the United States and China.

A twitter account set up in honor of the newborn panda cub reacted gleefully to the news.

“So wait… $4.5m divided by us 4 pandas here… Holy moly!! Am I a millionaire now????? #NeedanAccountant,” he tweeted under the handle @houseofcubs.

A member of the zoo-owning Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents since 2009, Rubenstein has given a total of $9 million for panda research and another $2 million in 2013 for Asian elephant research. –AFP

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