Bye-Bye, Bao Bao: Popular Giant Panda Heads To China This Winter : The Two-Way The National Zoo's giant pandas are on loan from China, and the agreement requires that any pandas born in D.C. be sent to China before they turn 4. It'll soon be time for Bao Bao to make the journey.
NPR logo Bye-Bye, Bao Bao: Popular Giant Panda Heads To China This Winter

Bye-Bye, Bao Bao: Popular Giant Panda Heads To China This Winter

Bao Bao has been living separately from her mother, Mei Xiang, since March 2015. Connor Padraic Mallon/The Smithsonian's National Zoo hide caption

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Connor Padraic Mallon/The Smithsonian's National Zoo

Bao Bao has been living separately from her mother, Mei Xiang, since March 2015.

Connor Padraic Mallon/The Smithsonian's National Zoo

Giant panda Bao Bao, born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in August 2013, will be heading to China this winter.

Bao Bao's parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, are on loan from China, and the agreement calls for any pandas born to the breeding pair to be sent to the Chinese breeding program before they turn 4.

Bao Bao was born in 2013, only the second surviving baby panda ever born at the National Zoo. Abby Wood/Smithsonian Institution hide caption

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Abby Wood/Smithsonian Institution

Bao Bao was born in 2013, only the second surviving baby panda ever born at the National Zoo.

Abby Wood/Smithsonian Institution

Bao Bao's older brother, Tai Shan, made the journey in 2010. Now it will be Bao Bao's turn. FedEx will be flying her to Chengdu "within the first few months of 2017," the National Zoo says.

"Traveling during the colder months mitigates concerns over keeping Bao Bao cool," the zoo says in a press release. "The panda team will continuously monitor Bao Bao during the trip and will travel with a supply of her favorite treats, including bamboo, apples, pears, cooked sweet potatoes and water."

Giant pandas are solitary in the wild, the National Zoo writes, and cubs separate from their mothers to establish their own territories between 18 months and 2 years old. The Smithsonian's National Zoo hide caption

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The Smithsonian's National Zoo

Giant pandas are solitary in the wild, the National Zoo writes, and cubs separate from their mothers to establish their own territories between 18 months and 2 years old.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo

Before she goes, let's count down Bao Bao's final days with a look back at her greatest hits:

The zoo says there will be a special celebration to say goodbye to Bao Bao before she leaves for China.

The zoo still has one young giant panda, which will remain in the nation's capital for several more years: Bei Bei, who was born last summer.

Bao Bao turned 3 this summer. The loan arrangement with China calls for giant pandas born in the U.S. to be sent to China before their fourth birthday. There are about 1,800 giant pandas in the wild, the National Zoo says, and Chinese scientists are working to breed and reintroduce the species to the wild. National Zoo hide caption

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National Zoo

Bao Bao turned 3 this summer. The loan arrangement with China calls for giant pandas born in the U.S. to be sent to China before their fourth birthday. There are about 1,800 giant pandas in the wild, the National Zoo says, and Chinese scientists are working to breed and reintroduce the species to the wild.

National Zoo