Representatives from the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the San Diego Zoo signed a loan agreement on Thursday to extend the zoo's giant panda conservation cooperation.
Dignitaries from around the world attended the ceremony at the zoo to extend the panda loan, which began in 1996 and would have ended in 2008.
The newly extended cooperative agreement allows adult giant pandas Bai Yun and Gao Gao to stay in San Diego Zoo for another five years. Young pandas born in the zoo will remain at the zoo's Giant Panda Research Station until they are four years old, zoo officials said.
According to the agreement, the majority of the annual 500,000-U.S.-dollar fee will be used to rebuild the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China's Sichuan province.
"In 1996, we began more than a simple cooperative program," said Douglas Myers, chief executive officer of the zoo. "We began a conservation effort that has had a global reach bringing conservationists in China and the United States together for a common goal."
"The loan agreement between the San Diego Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association symbolizes the ongoing collaboration between conservationists in China and San Diego," said Zhang Yun, Consul General of the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Los Angeles. "This will be helpful to strengthen the relationship between China and the United States".