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Bao Bao The Panda Says Goodbye To America, Heads To Her New Home In China

By February 22, 2017 at 4:50 am
Bao Bao the Panda prepares for a trip to China (Photo : CNN/YouTube)

The United State's most lovable panda is headed to China and the whole world is watching.

Bao Bao the Panda has left the United States for her new home in Chengdu, China. The move is part of a breeding and research program between the two countries.

Under the program, pandas leased to the US still belong to China. In the event that the pandas do breed, the cubs will be sent back to China once they reach four years of age to join the country's panda breeding program.

The cuddly 3-year-old Bao Bao left the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washinton on Tuesday. And like the way it has been since her birth, the event was watched by her millions of followers on Panda Cam. The live feed showed the giant panda, in her crate, being loaded onto a Boeing 777F at the Dulles International Airport.

Bao Bao won't be alone, though, as her handler and veterinarian traveled with her. She will also be going with 55lbs of bamboo, 5lbs of apples and 2lbs of sweet potatoes.

Pandas spend 13 to 16 hours a day eating and Bao Bao's handler, Marty Dearie, says they hope "she's going to eat" for most of the flight.

National Zoo director Dennis Kelly described Bao Bao's birth as a huge success for the zoo and her departure as "bittersweet."

"We've watched Bao Bao grow up during the past three years, and she has charmed people all over the world with her independent and playful personality," Kelly said in a statement.

Once she arrives in China, Bao Bao will be taken to her new home run by the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda where she will hopefully give birth in the future.

Pandas are notoriously hard to breed. And with panda numbers down to just 1,800 in the wild and 400 bears in the care of humans, it's no wonder why there are so much fanfare and pressure surrounding Bao Bao.

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