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Pandas

Bye Bye, Bao Bao: National Zoo Panda Has One Week Left in the United States

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On Feb. 21, Bao Bao will leave the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and board a FedEx Express plane for China to live out the rest of her life at a panda reserve in the country.

For the trip, Bao Bao will get the celebrity treatment: a private plane flight, roomy accommodations, a motorcade to the airport and an onboard snack bar stocked with pounds of her favorite foods, reports USA Today.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty

The 197-lb. panda was born at the American zoo in Aug. 2013 to mom Mei Xiang and dad Tian Tian. From the start, Bao Bao’s fans knew the panda wasn’t going to be a permanent resident due to an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which states that all panda cubs born in America will relocate to China by their fourth birthday.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty

Still, that doesn’t make goodbye any easier. Instead of focusing on Bao Bao’s future absence, the zoo is celebrating the panda and all her adorable moments. Festivities kicked off with a dumpling feast for the National Zoo’s human visitors and special apple treats for the panda of honor. All Bao Bao devotees are encouraged to make art and write letters for the panda to enjoy on her long trip to China.

For those who live too far to say goodbye to Bao Bao in person, the National Zoo is stacking its Facebook page with live videos sessions of Bao Bao eating, painting and, her greatest talent, just being plain cute. On Tuesday, the #ByeByeBaoBao series will culminate with a final clip of the panda departing for China to help with the continuation of her species.

Oh Bao Bao, parting is such sweet sorrow.