Earlier this month, we gathered with over 100 VIPKid teachers at Zoo Atlanta to celebrate Mei Lun, an Atlanta-born panda who moved to China in 2016 and was adopted by VIPKid earlier this year. The event was a unique opportunity to honor local Georgia teachers, as well as learn more about giant panda conservation efforts and offer updates on Mei Lun’s new life.
Attendees of this special celebration heard from senior keeper Heather Roberts and observed the giant pandas at the Zoo’s Panda Veranda.
“We appreciate VIPKid for their support of giant pandas. It was a pleasure to be part of the care team for Mei Lun and her sister Mei Huan from their births in 2013 to their departure for China in 2016… and are honored to know of VIPKid’s dedication to this species and its conservation,” said Heather Roberts, Senior Keeper of Carnivores at Zoo Atlanta and a longtime member of the Zoo’s giant panda care team.
Though a Georgian at heart, Mei Lun now lives a quiet life at the Dujiangyan Panda Base in Sichuan Province, China. She weighs a hearty 231 pounds and enjoys a simple diet of bamboo shoots and a daily cornmeal snack called wowotou. Her expert caretaker, Mr. He Yuanxing, refers to Mei Lun as a “quiet but dignified girl,” and tells us that she’s now able to understand and respond to the local Sichuan dialect of her keepers. When she’s not swinging in her large outdoor garden, you might find her resting in her two-bedroom suite or playfully searching for apples hidden in bamboo by her caretaker. Mei Lun also recently participated in an important rite of passage in China—the choosing of her English name. VIPKid students have given Mei Lun the English name Melon!
Many of the local VIPKid teachers who joined us at the event remember visiting Mei Lun when she lived in Atlanta, and they were excited to learn about her new life in China.
“In 2014, I took my kids to see Mei Lun and [her sister] Mei Huan in person, said local Atlanta teacher Kimberly Richardson. “I never knew that someday we would be connected through VIPKid! VIPKid is one of the best things to ever happen to me and my family.”
This fun event was part of our effort to recognize the local VIPKid community and highlight their passion for teaching students across the globe each day. With Mei Lun (virtually) by our side, we’re excited to continue developing resources and programs to teach conservation and awareness, and to connect VIPKid teachers and students around the world.
Wondering how you can join us for future events? To snag an invite to the Zoo celebration, local teachers were simply asked to take a selfie in front of the VIPKid billboards that have popped up throughout Georgia! Stay in-the-know on what’s coming next by following us on Facebook and Instagram… we hope to see you at the next event.