On Feb 21, Washington, D.C. will say goodbye to one of its most-beloved ambassadors, Bao Bao.
The US Smithsonian National Zoo’s three-year-old female giant panda is heading back to China.
Bao Bao was born in August of 2013 and is part of the National Zoo’s cooperative breeding program with the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
The giant pandas loan program, often dubbed “panda diplomacy,” has helped remove the giant panda from the endangered species list.
Pandas from a conservation base in Southwest China’s Sichuan province have been dispatched to zoos all around the world to breed, sparking research and raising awareness of the plight of the giant panda in the wild.
Panda cubs born outside of China are returned to participate in breeding programs. But when they return, some have developed a few very foreign characteristics, from eating habits to speaking patterns.
China’s conservation base has prepared a new home to welcome Bao Bao. She will stay in quarantine for a month, during which the caretakers will observe her health condition and help her adjust to the new environment and diet habit.
All panda meals at the Chengdu Research Base are home-cooked, with specially-grown bamboo.
Also, the climate in Sichuan is perfect for pandas, no matter where they were born.