A request by the San Diego Zoo to import two giant pandas from China has been rejected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the grounds that it might encourage other zoos to import the endangered animals.
Zoo officials, who had promised to pay $3 million to China for its panda preservation program, say they may appeal the rejection to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
“We don’t want to give up,” said Oliver Ryder, a geneticist with the zoo.
The ruling said that bringing Shi Shi and Shun Shun to San Diego for three years “may be detrimental to the survival of the species and could have a negative . . . effect on the wild population of giant pandas in China.”