Large zoos in Washington are standing by while a private foundation tries to bring panda bears to the state.
Officials at the Washington Panda Foundation say they'll be attending a Chinese Panda Summit this month. The only other invitees? Zoos who host pandas.
The Chinese government charges $1 million a year for U.S. zoos to host panda bears and requires a minimum 10-year commitment to hosting.
That doesn't phase foundation co-chair Ron Chow, who is leading the fundraising effort to bring the 'vulnerable' bear to Washington.
Chow: "We have private citizens, we have companies, who have voiced interest already. I really do not worry about $2-3 million a year, or that there will be any issue at all, period."
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Chow says now is a good time to work with China on the topic, on the heels of president Xi Jinping's Seattle visit, and because Washington is a top trading partner with China.
But there's skepticism from Washington zoos.
Officials at Woodland Park Zoo estimate it would cost up to $30 million to build a panda exhibit. Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma is also worried about cost. In addition, their hands are full with a new aquarium and efforts to save leopard cubs and tigers, according to Metro Parks Tacoma spokesperson Hunter George. He says Point Defiance will have open ears if Ron Chow finds a solution.
Chow heads to China later this month. He says Chinese government officials will visit in March to decide which Washington zoo is best for hosting pandas.
Four U.S. zoos have a panda exhibit, three of which have lost money on the exhibit according to the Giant Panda Conservation Foundation.