The effort to bring a pair of giant pandas to Washington state is being met with hesitancy.
Last year, a group of lawmakers signed a letter asking the Chinese government to consider loaning two pandas, after a visit to Washington by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A few months later, Xi responded with a letter saying he would have Chinese forestry officials look into the possibility.
Ron Chow, who co-chairs the Washington Panda Foundation, said at a press conference on Oct. 3 that he hopes officials with the China Giant Panda Conservation Office will visit Washington in March or April of next year.
To host pandas, U.S. zoos must pay the Chinese government $1 million a year, and must commit to housing the animals for a minimum of 10 years.
Officials at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo and Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo are worried that housing pandas would have a negative impact financially.
Chow said the panda foundation is working to identify private donors who could help fund any necessary facility improvements at local zoos, as well as the costs of caring for the pandas.