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Bao Bao lands safely in China after return from US

Updated: Feb 23,2017 8:54 AM     chinadaily.com.cn

The charter plane carrying giant panda Bao Bao arrives at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, Feb 22, 2017. A charter flight carrying Bao Bao, a giant panda born in the United States, landed in Chengdu, after a 16 and a half-hour flight. [Photo/Xinhua]

After a flight lasting almost 17 hours, an aircraft that left from Washington in the US with panda Bao Bao on board landed safely at Chengdu airport, in Southwestern China’s Sichuan province, at 6:59 pm on Feb 22.

Staff members of Sichuan Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau get abroad to check the condition of giant panda Bao Bao at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, Feb 22, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Bao Bao, a 3-and-a-half-year-old female giant panda that had lived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, left the United States on Feb 21, aboard a FedEx Panda Express 777F airplane.

The 200-pound animal will spend one month in quarantine in a 100 square meter “apartment” for the returning overseas pandas in the Dujiangyan Panda Base, where she will be greeted by her new keepers from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda and get acclimatized to the accents of her new keepers and the local food.

She may have the opportunity to meet her brother for the first time — 12-year-old Tai Shan, who returned to China from the US in 2010. Both are the offspring of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The parents still reside at the zoo in Washington.

It is not yet known whether Bao Bao will continue to live at the Dujiangyan center after her quarantine is over. She will eventually join the giant panda breeding program after the reaches the age at which pandas mate — between 5 and 6 years old.

Staff members of Sichuan Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau check the condition of giant panda Bao Bao at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, Feb 22, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Bao Bao, which translates to “precious treasure”, was born on Aug 23, 2013 through artificial insemination. At her naming ceremony when she turned 100 days old, China’s first lady Peng Liyuan and then US first lady Michelle Obama sent video greetings.

Under a bilateral agreement between the National Zoo and China, panda cubs born at the zoo to pandas on loan from China belong to China and should be returned to China before they reach the age of four so they can join the breeding program.

Bao Bao starts her new life in China with one month in quarantine in a 100 square meter “apartment” for the returning overseas pandas in the Dujiangyan Panda Base, Sichuan province. [Photo/CFP]

A close-up of Bao Bao in November, 2013. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

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