Zoo Atlanta's twin pandas to be returned to China

- Zoo Atlanta's adorable twin panda cubs will soon head to their new home in China.

Come November, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, will be shipped to their parent’s birthplace, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Officials say the move is part of a loan agreement: all of the offspring of the adult pair Lun Lun and Yang Yang must eventually be returned to their motherland.

SEE RELATED: Zoo Atlanta's Lun Lun gives birth to twin cubs

Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Raymond B. King announced the news in a statement Wednesday:

“Mei Lun and Mei Huan have grown up at Zoo Atlanta. The Zoo family and friends around the world have embraced them, and we have been their stewards over three memorable years. In the continuing history of success for the giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta, it’s now their turn for new opportunities and new contributions to a powerful conservation collaboration. We’re honored to have shared their formative years, and we’ll now watch with pride as they embark on their young adult years at the Chengdu Research Base, which is an international home base for some of the world’s top experts in caring for and protecting this species.” 

Weighing over a pound each, the three-year-old bears are native Atlantans, born at the zoo on July 15, 2013. They are the fourth and fifth offspring of 19-year-old adults Lun Lun and Yang Yang, and their siblings were all returned to China.

SEE RELATED: Zoo Atlanta shares photo updates on twin panda cubs

The pair’s first offspring, Mei Lan (born September 6, 2006), traveled to China in 2010. Their second and third cubs, Xi Lan (born August 30, 2008) and Po (born November 3, 2010), made the trip in 2014.

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