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China Greets Israel with Panda Diplomacy

Two giant pandas may soon be living in the Haifa Zoo

Anna Altman
December 03, 2014
(Shutterstock )
(Shutterstock )

The Chinese government announced this week that it plans to give two giant pandas to Israel, JTA reports.

Israeli zookeepers will first have to build an appropriate habitat to house the endangered creatures at the Haifa Zoo and guarantee a steady diet of bamboo. Officials from Haifa will also visit China to observe the animal in its natural habitat.

Haifa and Chengdu, a city in western China’s Szechuan province, signed a sister-cities agreement last year and the black-and-white bears are another sign of friendship between the two nations. The cities’ partnership has lead to an uptick in tourism between the sister cities as well.

China has offered the rare bears as gifts for centuries, in what has come to be known as “panda diplomacy.” China has recently offered pairs of bears to Malaysia and Taiwan.

Only about 5000 panda bears remain, and the bears are given in pairs in the hopes that they will propagate in captivity. The bears, however, are known to be particularly inept maters.

Anna Altman is a writer living in Brooklyn.