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MSNBC Segment Erroneously Claims National Zoo Could Lose Pandas over Trade War

Fresh off the Lawrence O’Donnell “fake news” controversy, MSNBC waded into another controversy over the trade war between the U.S. and China. Without evidence, the cable news network slammed the Trump administration for the current trade war and claimed [1] that if the trade war continued, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., could lose panda bears to China.

MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin, who was filling in for Katy Tur, said, “The president’s trade war with China could soon cost the National Zoo in D.C. its most beloved attraction. As tensions rise between the U.S. and China over trade, the pandas that thousands flock to see eat bamboo and tumble down their habit could be sent to China, which technically owns them.”

The current agreement between the National Zoo, run by the Smithsonian, and China is that the pandas are borrowed from China and from time to time, go back to China. The agreement is set to expire next year in 2020 and negotiations are expected to extend the loan beyond 2020. The pandas first arrived [2] in 1972 after President Richard Nixon’s wife, Pat Nixon, arranged for the pandas to come stateside with approval from the Chinese government. The agreement entails that the current pandas are on loan in exchange for a sum, in this case, $10 million for 10 years.

After MSNBC ran the segment, the National Zoo told [3] media outlets that the fear was unfounded and although negotiations have not yet started, they reiterated that the National Zoo has “had 47 incredibly successful years of partnering with our Chinese colleagues, China Wildlife and Conservation Association, and our current agreement is through Dec. 7, 2020.”