American-born panda Bao Bao starts journey to China
2017-02-22 10:41:52 CRIENGLISH.com



Dennis Kelly (left), Director of Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC, delivers a box of postcards to Cui Tiankai (right), Chinese Ambassador to the United States on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Luo Laiming]

After a week of farewell celebrations, American-born giant panda Bao Bao started her journey to China on Tuesday, and she is expected to arrive in southwest China's Sichuan Province on Wednesday night.

Bao Bao was air-lifted from Washington D.C. to be transported to the Dujiangyan Panda Base in Sichuan, where she is set to spend a month in quarantine before participating in the local breeding program.

A breeder and a veterinarian from the U.S. have accompanied the panda, and they will stay at the center for a few days, according to the U.S. National Zoo.

Dennis Kelly, Director of the National Zoo, went to see off Bao Bao, who went onboard the FedEx Panda Express, at the Dulles International Airport.

"Bao Bao is only the second surviving cub born in the National Zoo in 45 years. That's how hard it is. So it's very bitter sweet for us at the National Zoo to see her go. But it's my hope, it's my dream, that Bao Bao's offspring, her descendants will be once reintroduced back into the wild of China," said Kelly.

People in China will be able to see Bao Bao after she is given a clean bill of health following her quarantine.

Bao Bao was born on August 23, 2013 at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D. C.

Her mother Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian were sent to Washington in 2000 under a collaboration agreement between China and the U.S. The pair's first born, Tai Shan, came in 2005, and their third, Bei Bei, was born in 2015. The mating couple and the youngest cub remain in Washington.

There are currently only around 1,800 pandas living in the wild and 400 in captivity.


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