American-Born Pandas Struggle In China

American-Born Pandas Struggle In China

Giant panda twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan were born and raised in Atlanta, but not as a birthright citizens, and at age three they were returned to China. But since they were raised as Americans, the pandas only understand English, and their new Sichuanese-speaking keepers are finding them difficult to handle. Panda researchers in China can recognize basic panda vocalizations, but the twins probably speak panda with a Georgia drawl.

Mei Lun and Mei Huan don’t like the local food, either. The cuisine at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center is not up to the standards of Zoo Atlanta, where the beasts feasted on sugarcane, bananas, rice gruel, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, and high-fiber panda biscuits, not just bamboo and steamed bread.


“U.S.-born panda twins return to China, but struggle with the language and food,” Simon Denyer, Washington Post

“Zoo Atlanta Panda Twins Move to China, Don’t Care for Country’s Food and Can’t Understand Chinese,” Kelli Bender, People

“American-born pandas return to China, struggle with adapting to local language, food,” Alex Linder, Shanghaiist

“Returned giant panda twins prefer western lifestyle,” Xinhua, via Global Times


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Photo by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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