SAN DIEGO — San Diego Zoo Global and China’s Consul General celebrated 23 years of panda research and the future of panda conservation at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday.

As the result of the end of San Diego Zoo Global’s current giant panda research program, the zoo will give back two of their beloved pandas on April 27, but the zoo says this will be the beginning of a new era of panda conservation at the zoo.

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The ceremony kicked off a three-week-long farewell celebration for 27-year-old female giant panda Bai Yun and her son, 6-year-old Xiao Liwu who will be repatriated to China this spring. To mark the farewell, zoo visitors are able to purchase a commemorative bell from the Panda Shop or choose a free tag to hang on the Giant Panda Friendship Wall, located across from the Giant Panda Research Station in Panda Canyon.

The San Diego Zoo is urging people to share their memories with the pandas on social media, using the hashtag #pandas4ever. 

To learn more, visit sandiegozoo.org

Video by News 8 photojournalist Colleen Murphy shows Bai Yun enjoying some bamboo.