Bao Bao the Panda Swaps Washington for China

Bao Bao, a female panda bear cub, is seen in the panda exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, in August 2014. As part of the National Zoo's cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the zoo move must move back to China by the time they turn 4 years old. She'll be the only panda on the plane, traveling with a keeper and a veterinarian. Bao Bao, whose specially built crate was placed on a truck for the trip to the airport, will travel with a supply of snacks including 55lbs (25kg) of bamboo, 5lbs (2kg) of apples and 2lbs (1kg) of sweet potatoes. Her mother gave birth to her at the National Zoo following the death of her 6-day-old panda cub a year earlier.

Local news stations broadcast footage of the truck carrying Bao Bao driving down the Dulles Toll Road and finally arriving at her plane. A cub born a year before Bao Bao in 2012 did not survive.

Bao Bao is traveling on a FedEx airplane that has been customized for her.

After an online vote, the cub was named "Bao Bao", (pronounced Bow-Bow) which translates as "precious" or "treasure". The move is part of a cooperative breeding program between the National Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association that mandates all cubs born in the USA must transfer to China before the age of four. With Bao Bao's departure, there will be a dozen pandas remaining in the United States: four in Atlanta, three in Washington, three in San Diego and two in Memphis, Tennessee. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are the zoo's second panda pair.



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