Grin and Bear It: Events Bid Farewell to National Zoo's Panda Bei Bei

The National Zoo is hosting a week of events to say bye-bye to giant panda Bei Bei ahead of his big move to China next Tuesday

It's OK if you're feeling a little emotional. The Smithsonian's National Zoo is hosting a week of events to say bye-bye to giant panda Bei Bei ahead of his big move to China next Tuesday.

All giant panda cubs living at the zoo move to China at age four, due to an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. Bei Bei celebrated his fourth birthday in August.

The zoo is marking Bei Bei's departure — set for next Tuesday — with daily events through Monday. You'll be able to find festivities from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, and starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Each day at 9 a.m., Bei Bei will enjoy special enrichment activities, and at 11 a.m., his keeper will be answering visitors' questions. Daily at 1:30 p.m., guests can watch Bei Bei enjoying sweet treats, such as paw-shaped fruitsicles, pumpkin spice and his favorite sweet potatoes.

A postcard station next to Bei Bei's outdoor habitat will grant visitors the opportunity to wish the panda a written farewell. The postcard station will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and all the postcards created will travel to China with Bei Bei.

On Saturday morning, the Embassy of China will dish up dumplings for zoo guests at 8:30 a.m. Visitors can also warm up with hot chocolate at that time on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. (Note: Both the dumplings and hot chocolate will be available as supplies last.)

You can watch as all three of the zoo's giant pandas get to enjoy ice cakes made from favorite treats at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Who wouldn't want to eat cake for breakfast?

Visitors will also be able to make their own bracelets on both Saturday and Sunday, when a Friendship + Luck Bracelet Station will be set up on Olmstead Walk across from Panda Plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Can't make it to the zoo before Bei Bei leaves? The zoo is also streaming 24/7 footage of Bei Bei on one of their panda cams.


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Bei Bei's departure will make his parents empty nesters. Their two older offspring have also moved to China.

The popular young panda will be taken to the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Chengdu. A keeper from the American team will stay with Bei Bei while he adjusts to his new home.

Bei Bei will join the giant panda breeding program when he is between five and seven years old, according to the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. 

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