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The award-winning newspaper of Anne Arundel Community College.

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The award-winning newspaper of Anne Arundel Community College.

Campus Current

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Students visit zoo to say goodbye to pandas

Everett Luoma
A group of AACC students visited the pandas at the national zoo on Saturday to say goodbye before they left for China.

A group of students visited the National Zoo in Washington on Nov. 4 to say goodbye to the giant pandas before they returned to China on Wednesday.

Six students, mostly members of AACC’s Super Science Club, had the chance to observe two adult pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji, as they rolled around their cage and ate treats.

“It was cool,” Effie Gentry, third-year landscape architecture student, said. “It was a little crowded for me but it was a really amazing day because [of] the panda bears.”

The pandas, which had been here for a half-century, were on loan from China, which announced the recall in August and set a December exit date. However, the pandas left the National Zoo on Nov. 8.

Giant pandas left the zoo in San Diego in 2019 and in Memphis earlier this year. Four giant pandas at the Atlanta Zoo are scheduled to return to China next year.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people in the region and students at this institution to go see the pandas before they [were] shipped back to China,” Bryant Pepe, a third-year earth science major and president of the Super Science Club, said.

After seeing the pandas, students toured the rest of the zoo.

“It’s such an amazing experience to see these animals we, like, read about in our textbooks and they’re, you know, out right in front of you,” Gentry said. “Like, you never really know how amazing a zebra is until you can actually see it, right? You can look at pictures all day. So it would be nice if there were more opportunities like that for more students to have access to it.”

One student said she liked seeing the birds more than the pandas.

“My favorite part was easily the birdhouse,” Alex Bradford, second-year plant science major, said. “It was a lot less crowded and just a lot calmer. It didn’t feel like it was being rushed through and they gave me free coffee. So that was pretty cool.”

Pepe said he had hoped more students would join the Super Science Club for the trip to the zoo, but the club was unable to get funding from the college to rent a bus.

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