Bao Bao The Panda Leaves D.C.’s National Zoo On ‘Panda Express’ Headed For China
Bao Bao the panda is heading to China from the Washington, D.C. National Zoo to take part in a panda breeding program.
BAO BAO THE PANDA FLIES TO CHINA FOR BREEDING PROGRAM
Pandas are on the endangered species list and China is currently running a breeding program for pandas. Bao Bao is a 3-year-old cub who was born in America, will take part in the program once Bao Bao reaches sexual maturity, between ages 5 and 6. They flew her now because it is easier to transport pandas during the cooler winter months.
The flight was 16 hours long and went very smoothly, says the panda’s keeper Marty Dearie. “Bao Bao was a real champion during the flight. All the weeks of training and preparation served her really well,” he said. “She’s in excellent hands now and I’m glad I get to transition with our Chinese partners and have my ‘goodbye’ in a couple days.”
The “FedEx Panda Express,” as the custom-decaled plane was called, was stocked with 55 pounds of bamboo, 5 pounds of apples, and 2 pounds of sweet potatoes — Bao Bao’s favorites. “Most of the flight, we hope she’s going to eat,” said Dearie before take off. Pandas spend 13 to 16 hours a day eating.
Bao Bao was born at the zoo in DC on Aug. 23, 2013. She was a delight, as her mother Mei Xiang had only given birth once before, in 2005. She had trouble getting pregnant after that, and lost another cub in 2012. Fittingly, Bao Bao means “previous treasure” in Chinese.
In honor of Bao Bao’s departure, the National Zoo even made her a giant cake, and posted favorite moments of the panda, along with some panda facts, to its Instagram page. See some of the highlights below.
#Repost from @smithsonian ・・・ This face means #BaoBao is trying to get our attention. Usually when she wants to get our attention she’ll come to the back of the mesh, or climb a tree so she can see what we are doing from a distance. Now that second breakfast is over, she’s ready to head back inside where there’s more food. We’ve finished cleaning her indoor enclosure and put more bamboo, biscuits, sweet potato and apple in there for her. #PandaStory #ByeByeBaoBao
???❤️Bao Bao’s farewell ice cake was created by the Zoo’s Department of Nutrition Sciences. The cake was inspired by a Chinese pagoda in honor of her new home. Ingredients include apple juice, applesauce, leaf eater biscuits, leaf eater biscuit powder, dried bamboo leaves, apple, pear, water, bamboo spine and food coloring. #ByeByeBaoBao @fonznationalzoo
?Bao Bao began her journey to China this morning. She departed the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia where she will board a FedEx 777F plane bound for China. Tune into the Zoo’s Facebook page for a LIVE broadcast of the departure at 1:30pm EST. (Yes, those are ? ears on the forklift) #ByeByeBaoBao @fonznationalzoo @fedex