Published: Wed, February 22, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Lessons We've Learned From Bao Bao As She Starts Her New Life

Lessons We've Learned From Bao Bao As She Starts Her New Life

Bao Bao left Dulles International Airport outside the USA capital on a specially outfitted cargo plane for a 16-hour nonstop flight to the Chinese city of Chengdu, home to a special research base for giant panda breeding. From there, she will take a 19-hour direct flight on a personalized FedEx plane, accompanied by Dearie, a vet. One keeper and one veterinarian will fly with the panda to monitor her during the trip and feed Bao Bao her favorite treats, including bamboo, apples, pears and cooked sweet potatoes.

Once Bao Bao arrives in Chengdu, China, she'll be driven to her new home, one of the bases run by the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. And there will be plenty to snack on. Her departure is part of an agreement with China, which loaned her parents to the zoo.

She is headed to China so that she can enter a breeding program in Chengdy when she reaches five or six, in order to help repopulate the panda population.

Visitors got to see Bao Bao for the first time in early 2014.

Before beginning her journey to Chengdu, Bao Bao took a walk around the panda's area in the zoo and had a breakfast. The National Zoo has been preparing for her departure since the day she was born.

Bao Bao's final hours at the zoo will be shown on Facebook Live on February 21. Bao Bao seemed like a smaller version of her, the 14-year-old says. "According to the National Zoo, Bao Bao translates to "precious" or treasure".

Keepers have been getting Bao Bao accustomed to her traveling crate over the past few weeks. With Bao Bao's departure, there will be a dozen pandas remaining in the United States: four in Atlanta, three in Washington, three in San Diego and two in Memphis, Tennessee. She will arrive to China tomorrow. She is the second surviving cub of her parents Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN). "Because it's very hard for giant pandas to breed naturally, Chinese and Americans have been working on breeding them through artificial insemination", Tiankai wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. Chinese scientists are working to reintroduce giant pandas to the wild.

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