Bao Bao Departs: Panda cub leaves DC for China

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Bao Bao has left the only place shes ever called home and is now off on the biggest journey of her life. The panda cub, born three years ago at D.C.'s National Zoo, boarded a truck Tuesday morning and set off for Dulles International Airport. They arrived at the airport around 11:30 a.m.

From there, Bao Bao boarded a flight to Chengdu, China, where she will eventually join a panda breeding program. Part of the zoo's cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association is that all cubs born at the zoo move to China by the time they turn 4 years old. Bao Bao will turn 4 on Aug. 23, 2017.

Bao Bao's plane took off just before 2 pm from Washington Dulles International Airport. She is traveling with a keeper and a veterinarian during the 16-hour, nonstop flight to China. Keepers have packed her favorite foods, including bamboo, apples and sweet potatoes.

Bao Bao

Bao Bao

Bao Bao

On Monday, zoo staff prepared for the trip and celebrated Bao Bao with a frozen ice cake.

The panda is the first surviving cub born at the National Zoo since 2005. Her older brother Tai Shan left the National Zoo for China back in 2010. Their youngest sibling, Bei Bei, was born last year in August.

Bao Bao

#ByeByeBaoBao Schedule:

Tuesday, February 21

10:00 a.m. - Bao Bao's Zoo Departure (Bao Bao departs from the Zoo.)

1:30 p.m. - Bao Bao at Dulles Airport (Bao Bao departs Dulles International Airport on the “FedEx Panda Express,” a custom-decaled 777F aircraft.)