Popular pandas could be deported to China

May 22, 2009 12:05:16 PM PDT
A U.S. born resident deported despite public appeals for him to stay? That's what's happening at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. Where a popular baby panda and its parents may soon have to return to China.

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Pandas are simply irresistible. There may be no bigger star - than the National Zoo's Tai Shan. His birth gave way to - panda-monium - inspiring toys, t-shirts - even a 24/7 panda cam.

But, Tai Shan and his parents could soon be shipped to China. The Chinese government loaned the cuddly creatures - for 10 years - for $10 million. And the lease is running out.

"Can't this country buy one?" asked a person.

Unfortunately - no. There are only 1,600 in the world - just 160 in captivity.

"Since we've nurtured and cared for them, we should keep them," said a person.

Only four zoos in the entire country have pandas - they're so popular, 80 percent of visitors who come to this zoo - end up right here.

"If they didn't have them, who knows if we would have came," said a person.

Zoo officials are trying to negotiate an extension the talks are so delicate they wouldn't talk to us -- leaving many to wonder about the fate of the pandas.

"I'm celebrating 54 years of marriage I couldn't think of leaving her, how can a panda leave us?" asked a person.

But the zoo vows - one way or another - there will be pandas in Washington.

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