Giant panda Bei Bei will leave the Smithsonian National Zoo for China on Tuesday. As part of the cooperative breeding agreement with the United States and China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the zoo must leave to return to China when they are four-years-old. Bei Bei celebrated his fourth birthday on August 22.
According to Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Bei Bei has become part of the family.
“Our team has cared for him, learned from him, and along with millions, loved watching him grow. We’re sad he’s leaving, but excited for the contributions he will make to the global giant panda population. Bei Bei is an ambassador for conservation and part of a 47-year program that proves bringing species and habitats back from the brink is possible through global cooperation.”
So how does a giant panda get to China? No economy class for this special passenger for sure. A FedEx plane will take him on his 15+ hour flight from the United States to China. The flight, appropriately named FedEx Panda Express, is a custom-decaled Boeing 777 Freighter aircraft from Dulles International Airport.
The company has flown giant pandas before including some of Bei Bei’s relatives, and this will be the eighth time FedEx has delivered a giant panda through a Memphis based charitable giving program called “Delivering for Good.”
Although the United States and China are currently involved in a trade dispute, there are no hard feelings nor political agendas dealing with the common interest centering on the preservation of giant pandas and their safety. Plans have been underway since the beginning of October and more than 100 people have been involved in Bei Bei’s comfort and safety.
As for Bei Bei, he’s been getting accustomed to his travel crate by spending time in it, walking through it and even having the door closed. The 55 x 75 x 50 inches crate will be his deluxe seat. Accompanying him will be 66 pounds of bamboo and lots of panda treats including apples, carrots and sweet potatoes.
Accompanying Bei Bei will be his keeper and a veterinarian. Laurie Thompson, has been caring for his since he was a hairless cub. According to the South China Morning Post, the two know each other well; he comes when Laurie calls him and squawks when he wants something.
“I think there’s going to be some tears,” Thompson, the assistant curator of giant pandas and the zoo’s longest-serving giant panda keeper, said. “To leave him in a new place, although I know he’ll be getting great care, it’s just sad.”
Once Bei Bei arrives in China, Laurie will fill in his new Chinese keepers about the panda’s quirks. He loves to climb trees, he doesn’t like his feet touched and detests frozen bananas.
Stay safe big guy. We will miss you.
Your purchase helps support the continuation of this site. Thank you! Find more styles at our store here.
There is no us. There is no them. We are one! Click here to pick your favorite style and color of this unique design. Your purchase helps support the continuation of our site. More styles and messages at our store. Please click here to find them all!
Help support the continuation of this site AND spread the word – Pets are not disposable!! Find your favorite color and style here.