Speed Reads

bye bye bao bao

The National Zoo's giant panda Bao Bao is moving to China

For the past three years, Bao Bao has been delighting crowds at the Smithsonian National Zoo, where she frolicked in the snow, climbed on rocks, and ate as much bamboo as possible. Now, she's off to a new adventure in China.

Bao Bao was born in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 23, 2013, to parents born in China: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. As part of an agreement between the National Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all giant pandas born at the zoo must be sent to live in China before they turn 4. "We like to send them back about this age because in a couple of years she'll actually reach breeding age," Marty Dearie, one of her keepers, told ABC News. "It's good to get them back a little early so they have time to settle into their new environment."

Over the past several weeks, zoo visitors waited for up to an hour to see Bao Bao in the panda enclosure, and she was celebrated with a dumpling ceremony and an ice cake party. When she leaves D.C. on Tuesday for Chengdu, China, it will be in luxury — Bao Bao will spend her 19-hour flight on a personalized FedEx jet alongside Dearie, a veterinarian, and all of her flying essentials, including nearly 60 pounds of bamboo. Catherine Garcia