Photo by PoPville flickr user Victoria Pickering
From the National Zoo:
“Bei Bei, the 4-year-old giant panda, began his journey to China this morning. He departed the Smithsonian’s National Zoo at 9:30 a.m. for Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia where he boarded a dedicated FedEx 777F plane bound for Chengdu, China. The non-stop flight will take about 16 hours. Bei Bei’s departure from the Zoo was broadcast via Facebook Live, as was his departure from Dulles International Airport.
“Today is bittersweet,” Steve Monfort, director of the Zoo said. “We’ve cared for Bei Bei, and along with millions, watched him grow into a true ambassador for his species. We are grateful to everyone who joined us for his farewell celebration. I am immensely proud of our team who have prepared Bei Bei for the next chapter of his life as he enters the breeding program in China. We look forward to continuing our 47-year giant panda conservation program and collaboration with Chinese colleagues to study, care for and help save the giant panda and its native habitat.”