Mei Xiang and Tian Tian of the national zoo may not be aware of the wonderful news that was posted in the Washington Post this morning, but you can be sure all of their panda fans are extremely grateful.
A big Thank You goes out to David M.Rubenstein who has reportedly donated 4.5 million dollars toward the zoo's panda reproduction program. As a regent with the Smithsonian, he heard of the zoo's difficulty in acquiring the much needed funds to keep the reproduction program going.
“When I heard about it,” Rubenstein said, “I thought . . . ‘We have been residents of Washington for a long time. We took our children to the zoo when they were younger. I’m a Smithsonian regent.’ And I thought it would be a nice holiday gift for the zoo and people in Washington.”
You are certainly right about the donation being a nice holiday gift, Mr. Rubenstein. For those of us who keep up with the National Zoo Pandas, maybe your donation will turn the tide for a new cub or two in the coming years. May you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!
The National Zoo plans to announce Monday that philanthropist David M. Rubenstein is donating $4.5 million to its giant panda reproduction program, bolstering the zoo’s ability to maintain one of Washington’s most popular attractions at a time of economic strain.
The donation, which Rubenstein described as a holiday gift to the zoo and the city, will cover the tab for five years of giant panda reproduction efforts and for other panda research here and in China. The pandas, on loan from China, previously had their stay extended through 2015, but the zoo had been having trouble securing corporate sponsorship for a program that has delighted and captivated zoogoers for more than a decade.
Now, zoo officials can stop worrying about fundraising for the pandas and turn to what they consider a far more important task: The often frustrating effort to produce panda cubs. The zoo has said that 2012 is probably the last year it will try to achieve a pregnancy with its current pair of giant pandas.
Officials plan to announce the donation during a news conference at the zoo to be attended by Rubenstein; the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Zhang Yesui; the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Wayne Clough; and National Zoo Director Dennis W. Kelly.
Zoo officials, privately, expressed excitement about the development, but they declined to comment officially before the formal announcement.
Rubenstein is a co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group, a global asset-management firm. He is also a member of the board of regents at the Smithsonian, which operates the zoo, and chairman of Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.