Pandas have captured the imagination and interest of millions of people in the United States over the past several decades, and a number of well-publicized visits to some of the nation's zoos have helped fuel this interest. Despite the fact that pandas are tremendously expensive to care for, many zoos continue to argue that the visits are important in terms of the cultural exchange opportunities they offer for Chinese and American scientists to work together. This online feature created by National Geographic explores the scientific and financial aspects of hosting pandas in the United States, and includes a photo essay, an essay on the subject, and an online discussion forum. Accompanying the photo essay are "Field Notes" written by photographers Fritz Hoffmann and Michael Nichols. These are a real treat, as they both talk about photographing these shy creatures, and also about the politics of doing such work in China. Finally, the site also includes a "Learn More" area which features answers to a number of questions (such as "Are pandas really bears?") and a host of related links and suggested readings.


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