PHOTOS: National Zoo’s pandas throughout the years

The National Zoo’s three giant pandas — Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their cub Xiao Qi Ji — are returning to China on Nov. 8, with no public signs that the 50-year-old exchange agreement struck by President Richard Nixon will continue.

The potential end of the National Zoo’s panda era comes amid what veteran China-watchers say is a larger trend. With diplomatic tensions running high between Beijing and a number of Western governments, China appears to be gradually pulling back its pandas from multiple Western zoos as their agreements expire.

After a third extension of a contract with China, the three pandas’ ages have all lined up for when the giant bears are usually returned to China, with Mei Xiang and Tian Tian reaching old age and Xiao Qi Ji just shy of his fourth birthday.

The photos below include the panda couple that stayed at the National Zoo for more than two decades and their panda cubs over the years. It also includes pandas that have historically lived in D.C. in the past 50 years.

More Panda News

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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