Suffering: Giant Pandas YaYa And LeLe At Memphis Zoo Credit: Panda Voices
UPDATE! A huge victory for Giant Pandas YaYa, 22, and LeLe, 24, who will be sent back to their homeland of China, according to a statement from the Memphis Zoo. In Defense of Animals and Panda Voices, who have been lobbying for the pandas’ release for nearly two years, announced the news today.
“After far too many years of suffering in a grossly inappropriate zoo exhibit, YaYa and LeLe will finally get improved care at a specialized panda refuge in their homeland,” said Brittany Michelson, Captive Animals Campaigner for In Defense of Animals.
“We applaud the Memphis Zoo and Chinese authorities for making the ethical decision to return the pandas to China once the loan contract ends in April 2023. We thank Billie Eilish and our many thousands of supporters worldwide for helping us encourage the zoo to do the right thing,” continued Michelson. “We are delighted to celebrate this momentous victory. Animals suffer tremendously in zoos, and we hope this will prompt all zoos to put animals’ needs first and release them to accredited sanctuaries.”
YaYa and LeLe have been suffering at the Memphis Zoo since 2003. The pandas are visibly distressed and malnourished and spend their days pacing or sleeping, clearly bored in their dirty, small enclosure. YaYa has a chronic skin condition and LeLe has significant teeth issues resulting in broken molars.
“We are overwhelmed with joy at the news of YaYa and LeLe returning home to China!” said Taciana Santiago of Panda Voices.
“We thank the Memphis Zoo for allowing this to happen and hope they provide the pandas the conditions they need to be fit to endure the long travel. We will continue to monitor their situation until we are sure they are in a suitable environment,” continued Santiago. “We look forward to seeing them live a life of retirement and peace in China. Big thanks to In Defense of Animals and all of our supporters who stayed vigilant on this journey! King LeLe and Queen YaYa will soon be home!”
The campaign to free YaYa and LeLe was supported by singer Billie Eilish.
Thankfully, the loan contract between China and the Memphis Zoo is ending in April 2023 and they will be returning home.
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