Bye Bye, Bao Bao: National Zoo Reveals Date Panda Will Leave for China

Bao Bao will leave for China Feb. 21, National Zoo revealed Monday

We always knew this day would come, but that doesn't make it any easier.

The National Zoo revealed Monday that Bao Bao, its 3-year-old giant panda, will move to China Feb. 21.

The zoo announced farewell celebrations for Bao Bao back in January, but this is the first time it's announced her official travel date.

Commence crying... now.

Bao Bao is moving to China to enter the the country's panda breeding program, the National Zoo has said. All panda cubs born at the zoo must move to China before they turn 4.

Bao Bao won't turn 4 until August, but the zoo has said it's better for pandas to travel in the winter months when it's cool. A team will travel with Bao Bao to ensure she's comfortable throughout the trip. 

Bao Bao's older brother, Tai Shan, moved to a Chinese breeding center in February 2010 -- with the aid of none other than FedEx. Tai Shan was carefully placed on the back of a FedEx truck and driven to Dulles International Airport, where he was shipped via a FedEx 777.

Bao Bao and Tai Shan's late grandfather, Pan Pan, was the Chinese breeding program's superstar. He fathered at least 32 cubs, and can count among his descendants about one-quarter of the world's population of captive-born pandas.


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The zoo will bid farewell to Bao Bao with a series of online and on-site events next month. Bao Bao is sure to be the belle of the ball, receiving twice-daily treats, her own 24/7 panda cam and an ice cake party between Feb. 16 and Feb. 20.

Bao Bao is the second of three surviving cubs born to Mei Xiang during her time at the zoo. She and a stillborn female twin were born Aug. 23, 2013. Her birth was especially exciting because it had been years -- eight, in fact -- since the National Zoo had a surviving cub.

Bao Bao now weighs 180 pounds and is classified as a "sub-adult."

Pandas can begin breeding between the ages of 4 and 6.

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