David Rubenstein, a co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group asset management firm, pledged to fund the giant panda conservation program at the US National Zoo, through 2020. The gift worth $4.5 million.
Twin giant panda cubs were born last month at the Washington zoo to female giant panda Mei Xiang, a member of a family which include adult male Tian Tian, female two-year-old Bao Bao and an unnamed male cub born on August 22. His twin died of pneumonia within a week of birth.
“The National Zoo’s panda program has been a remarkable success — two healthy pandas in just two years — and I am pleased to support it for another five years, ” Rubenstein said in statement issued by the zoo.
The zoo’s panda habitat — its star attraction — is named after the Rubenstein family in recognition of a previous donation to the program made in 2011.
Eleven conservation biologists have also been awarded fellowships funded by Rubenstein to study pandas in the United States and China.
A member of the zoo-owning Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents since 2009, Rubenstein has given a total of $9 million for panda research and another $2 million in 2013 for Asian elephant research.