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Giant panda Bao Bao has landed safely in China

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She ate and slept the whole flight and we have no concerns, none at all.
Marty Dearie, Bao Bao's keeper

UPDATE Feb. 22 7:55 a.m.:

Bao Bao landed safely in China Wednesday evening local time, The Associated Press reports.

Her 16-hour flight went smoothly, pilots said. She will be quarantined for a month before joining a panda breeding program.

UPDATE Feb. 20 12:36 p.m.:

Monday marks Bao Bao's last day at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The 3-year-old giant panda will leave Tuesday to join a breeding program in China. 

The Associated Press reports she's traveling in style, with 55 pounds of bamboo, five pounds of apples and two pounds of sweet potatoes. 

"We've done our part, and we're ready to send her to China so she can have her own babies someday," said Zoo panda curator Laurie Thompson.

ORIGINAL STORY: It seems like just yesterday Bao Bao celebrated her first snow day at Washington, D.C's Smithsonian National Zoo. Now, America's beloved giant panda, Bao Bao, is packing her bags to head off to Chengdu, China, as part of a breeding program with the China Wildlife Conversation Association that requires cubs born at the zoo to relocate before their fourth birthday, affiliate WJLA reported.

But, it wouldn't be a proper goodbye without some festivities. The National Zoo scheduled week-long celebrations for Bao Bao before she leaves.

Bao Bao's First Snow Day!

WATCH | Bao Bao, born in 2013, enjoys her first snow day.

On Saturday, families traveled to the Nation's Capital to get a glimpse of the panda before she leaves. 

Eleven-year-old Benjamin Greenberg traveled all the way from Louisville, Kentucky, to say goodbye to the three-year-old giant panda. "I just think it's really cool that we can see it before it goes to China," he said.


Sarah Andrews also traveled across state lines to meet the pandas. "We've never gotten to see panda bears before, so not only did we get to see them, but we get to see her before she leaves," she said.

On Saturday, the National Zoo held a training with Bao Bao with zoo keepers. The trainings are aimed to teach giant pandas specific behaviors, like how to voluntarily participate in veterinary exams, National Zoo said on its website.

It was a beautiful spring-like day in D.C.to visit Bao Bao, who appeared to be loving the attention. She played with her toys and ate some bamboo.

Though it's sad to see Bao Bao go, giant pandas are categorized as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The zoo keepers and scientists in China are working with pandas like Bao Bao to increase the number of wild pandas and their habitat. According to the National Zoo, some pandas have already been reintroduced into the wild, and it's possible that Bao Bao's offspring can enjoy a future in their native land.

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What was in Bao Bao's enrichment this morning? Cooked sweet potato, drizzled with honey! Inscribed on the box was a very special "thank you" to Friends of the National Zoo Members, who support our efforts to save giant pandas and many other species around the world.

One keeper and one veterinarian will fly with Bao Bao from Dulles International Airport to China Tuesday. She has been getting ready to go, even getting acclimated to traveling in a crate.

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