BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Bao Bao, the three-year-old panda at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. will be leaving the U.S. to live in China in two weeks.
On February 21, 2017, Bao Bao will be heading to Chengdu, China by FedEx. A keeper and veterinarian from the National Zoo will accompany her.
As part of the breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all panda cubs born at the National Zoo must be relocated to China before they turn four-years-old.
The Smithsonian National Zoo is planning a big sendoff for Bao Bao on February 16.
Bao Bao was born at the zoo on Aug. 23, 2014, and the first cub to survive birth since 2005 at the time.
China owns all giant pandas in U.S. zoos and requires that cubs born here be sent “home” about the time they reach breeding age.
Bao Bao has been living apart from her mother, Mei Xiang, since March 2015. Giant pandas are solitary in the wild, and cubs separate from their mothers to establish their own territories between 18 months and 2 years old, the statement said.
Bao Bao’s trip to China will come seven years after the zoo’s giant panda Tai Shan made the trip in February, 2010.
Tai Shan was born at the zoo July 9, 2005, and was the only giant panda born there to survive beyond infancy at the time.