Pandas Pit and Paule on display for one final weekend at Berlin Zoo

Pandas Pit and Paule on display for one final weekend at Berlin Zoo

This weekend is the last chance that zoo visitors in Berlin will be able to see Pit and Paule in real life before the pandas head back to China.

Berlin Zoo pandas return to China

Twin pandas Pit and Paule have entered quarantine before being sent to China. The weekend of December 9 is the last opportunity that zoo visitors will have to see the pandas before they begin their long plane journey. Since they are isolated, they will only be visible in a glass enclosure, rather than the open zoo.

The pair were born in Berlin in 2019 to Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, to older pandas who arrived in the German city from China in 2017. Though Pit and Paule were born in Germany after Meng Meng was artificially inseminated by staff at Berlin Zoo, all four of the pandas belong to China and have been on loan for an open-ended period since their arrival and birth.

Now, Pit and Paule will return to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, while Meng Meng and Jiao Quing stay behind, with staff at Berlin Zoo planning to inseminate Meng Meng once more, before the older pandas are called back to China, whenever that may be.

Why are so many pandas going back to China right now?

Pit and Paule are just two examples of so-called diplomacy bears which have been recalled by China in recent months, with several pandas from Washington D.C. Zoo and Edinburgh Zoo also set to return to their native country.

China has been using the black and white bears as a diplomatic tool since the Tang Dynasty (618–907), but only in the 1930s, did loaning the animals to other nations become such a widespread tactic for encouraging political ties and trade deals. 

In the case of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, who are about to return to China after 12 years in Scotland, the pandas were loaned shortly after the two countries made an oil deal in 2011.

Today, most of the pandas are loaned on a 10-year contract which can be renewed multiple times, with borrowing nations also paying China an annual fee of around 927.300 euros for their loans. For the bears that are born in loan nations, there is also an understanding that they will be returned to China before they are four years old

Thumb image credit: Daria Zakharova /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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