WASHINGTON, DC JANUARY 06: Giant panda bear cub Bao Bao moves around inside the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park January 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Born August 23, 2013, and weighing nearly 17 pounds, Bao Bao will make her public debut at the zoo on January 18.
(Photo : Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The adorable giant panda, Bao Bao, is moving to China next week. Bao Bao, whose name means «precious treasure,» was born at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Aug. 23, 2013.
As part of the deal between the zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), all pandas born at the zoo shall be sent to Chengdu, China before they reach the age of four to participate in a breeding program, ABC News reported.
Bao Bao needs two to three more years before she can partake in the breeding program. Until she becomes sexually mature, she would have to adjust to the new environment first.
Her journey to China will start on Tuesday. From the zoo, he will head to Dulles International Airport to begin her 16-hour flight to her new home.
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Washington Post notes that Bao Bao will have a private plane carry her to her destination. A metal crate the size of a double bed will serve as her space during the flight. She will be accompanied by a veterinarian as well as the keeper who had taken care of her since day one.
She will also have a mini luggage with 50 pounds of bamboo, two pounds of cooked sweet potatoes, two pounds of apples, 10 gallons of water, honey water and sugar cane.
Visitors and fans are now flocking to the zoo to bid their goodbyes. Bao Bao is only the second panda to be sent to China from the zoo. The first one was his brother, Tai Shan, who moved to China in 2010.
Other US zoos also have pandas that are on loan from China. The breeding program aims to produce a genetically diverse pool of pandas that could be reintroduced into the wild, The Atlantic notes.
Giant pandas are among the world’s most threatened species. There is only less than 2,000 of them in the wild.