First Living Giant Panda Leaves China

Saturday 28th November 1936

The widow of the explorer, who had captured the Komodo Dragons by then in the Bronx Zoo, further extended the family’s reputation as animal collectors. Mrs Ruth Harkness was the first person to capture a Giant Panda alive with the aid of a local guide. They scared a female away from her cub, which they took hold of and bottle-fed on the way to the coast. It was a male, but somehow it was mistaken for a female.

The baby was named Sun-Lin and eventually sold to a zoo in Chicago, where he was visited by Shirley Temple and the President’s son, Kermit Roosevelt amongst others. An attempt to provide him with a companion proved unhappy as he and Mei-Mei fought. Sun Lin survived only two years in captivity, dying of pneumonia in 1938.


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