By the end of 2024, two giant pandas will be back at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., first lady Jill Biden and other federal officials announced Wednesday morning.

Bao Li (pronounced BOW-lee), an almost 3-year-old male, and Qing Bao (pronounced Ching-BOW), a 2 1/2-year-old female, are coming to the United States as part of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s partnership with the China Wildlife Conservation Association.

“It’s especially meaningful to have them at the National Zoo, where people can visit the pandas in person for free [or] watch them on the panda cam,” Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III said in an announcement video.

The announcement did not provide a specific date for the animals’ arrival. Last year, China recalled its pandas from the United States — and those from the National Zoo landed safely in the country in November.

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When Bao Li and Qing Bao arrive, they will be quarantined for at least 30 days, according to the Smithsonian, which is considered routine practice.

How to see the pandas

When the pandas arrive, they will be housed in a refurbished exhibit with new ways for the bears to engage with their environment. The Smithsonian said it will share more information about the pandas’ arrival as those details are available.

While it’s not operating yet, the Smithsonian will have Giant Panda Cam livestreaming the pair, so that anyone can watch them. The zoo’s cameras stream 24/7.

If you want to visit in person: Entry passes, which are available online, are required — but admission is free. You can reserve an entry pass on the zoo’s website.

Parking is available at the zoo, but is not free.

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If you don’t feel like driving to D.C. from Baltimore or surrounding areas, the zoo is accessible by public transit. One easy option is to take a MARC or Amtrak train from Penn Station in Baltimore to Union Station in D.C.

Watch on YouTube

Then, you can ride WMATA’s Red Line from Union Station to the Woodley Park or Cleveland Park station. The walk to the zoo is equidistant from both, but it is uphill from Woodley Park, according to the zoo.

Giant panda program

Earlier this year, the Smithsonian and the China Wildlife Conservation Association signed a 10-year breeding and research agreement to bring pandas back to the United States. Any cubs that are born during the agreement will move to China by the time they turn 4, and the two adult bears — Bao Li and Qing Bao — will remain in the United States until 2034.

The agreement includes a $1 million annual fee, which is the same paid by any zoo outside of China that houses giant pandas. The fee goes toward research and conservation efforts in China.

The zoo’s giant panda program has a $2.8 million annual cost, supported by federal funding and private donations, according to the Smithsonian.

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More information about the bears can be found on the Smithsonian’s website.

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore does not have a giant panda exhibit. However, it announced earlier this year that a pair of red pandas will be coming to the zoo, hopefully by next summer.