Speed Reads

bye bye bao bao

National Zoo giant panda Bao Bao departs for China

Three-year-old giant panda Bao Bao took off from Washington, D.C., on Tuesday for a 16-hour flight to Chengdu, China. Bao Bao was born at the National Zoo on Aug. 23, 2013, and is moving to China as part of a cooperative breeding program. Her older brother, Tai Shan, was the first panda to make the journey in 2010. "Today marks another milestone in our fight to save endangered species," said National Zoo director Dennis Kelly. "Our team has worked so hard for so many years to make sure giant pandas stay on the Earth."

Bao Bao is traveling on the FedEx Panda Express, a customized Boeing 777F with her picture emblazoned on the side. The 205-pound panda will be seated in an 800-pound crate, and she is being accompanied on her journey by two zoo staffers — as well as plenty of bamboo, sweet potatoes, and apples to snack on.

"Pandas are very good at entertaining themselves," said Brandie Smith, associate director of animal care at the National Zoo. "You give a panda a stock of bamboo and they can entertain themselves for a very long time."