The first diplomatic panda gifts from Chairman Mao were to Soviet Union President Nikita Khrushchev and North Korean President Kim Il Sung in 1965. In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon and U.K. Premier Edward Heath also received their very own panda bears. Nixon, whose 1972 trip to China ended a 25-year diplomatic freeze in Sino-American relations, was the first American president to receive a panda loan from China.
Above, Chi Chi, the inspiration for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) logo and half of the U.K.'s first panda couple, is seen leaving the London Zoo to meet a mate in Moscow on March 11, 1966. The United Kingdom has proven to be particularly unlucky when it comes to inspiring panda procreation -- after the first couple failed, the country received another pair of bears in 1991. But they too were returned home after three years of unsuccessful mating attempts in England.
Seventeen years later, another pair of pandas were sent to the United Kingdom -- FedExed to Edinburgh, Scotland in Nov. 2011 while China's deputy premier was there negotiating contracts for supplies of salmon meat, energy technology, and Land Rovers valued at $4 billion. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said of the deal: ''Securing the loan of the pandas symbolises the great and growing friendship between Scotland and China."
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