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Jun 22, 2013
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The description below is a work in progress.

In the winter of 1987-88, Busch Gardens hosted two giant pandas, Yong Yong and Ling Ling, on loan from Beijing Zoo in a specially built multi-million dollar habitat. They arrived at the park on November 6 1987, [1] and went on display to the public on November 17th. [2]

Yong Yong was nearly seven at the time, and weighed in at 200 pounds. The younger Ling Ling was just over two when the pandas arrived, and was smaller than the elder Yong Yong. [1]

The 60x20 enclosure and surrounding elements cost in the millions to construct, although an official figure was not released by the park. The viewing areas for the habitat included a moving conveyor belt, elevated gallery, and overhead video monitors. It took three yeas of negotiations and planning, and a sizable donation was made in order to bring the pandas to the park. Around the holidays in December 1987, the pandas helped the park set a new one-day attendance record of 25,725 visitors. [1]

The pandas remained on display until April 1, 1988. [3]

As an interesting side note, at the time the exhibit opened, the park had daily hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission was $18.95 per person, ages 3 and up. (Children 2 and under were free). And there was a charge to park in the lot - $2. [2]




So far, I have been unable to pin down where in the park the pandas were located, or what eventually happened with the enclosure. A 1989 Chicago Tribune article [4] states that a trio of one year-old tiger cubs born at the park were using the former panda enclosure, and that it was located in "another corner of the park from Claw Island", so it wasn't in the Congo area.

Any help would be appreciated (cited sources would be awesome, but personal recollections are very welcome).
 
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