Giant panda Bei Bei eats bamboo at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park before heading back to China, Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Michael A. McCoy)

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperative breeding program

Bei Bei the panda is headed back to China Tuesday, after a stint at at U.S. zoo.

According to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Bei Bei is the third giant panda born at the zoo to move to China.

The panda is part of a cooperative breeding program with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. As part of the program, all giant panda cubs born at the zoo move to China when they turn four years old.

Bei Bei was born in November 2015, and his name means “precious treasure” in Mandarin Chinese. He was named by then-First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady of the People’s Republic of China, Peng Liyuan.

Through the years, the zoo has kept the public updated on Bei Bei’s adventures, from discovering snow to falling out of trees, and is re-sharing them on Twitter with the the hashtag #ByeByeBeiBei.

Giant pandas were upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” species status in 2016, and the zoo said Bei Bei is the first generation of pandas to live at the zoo as an ambassador for an increasing wild population.

Anyone who wants can track Bei Bei’s flight on the “FedEx Panda Express”: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/FDX9759.

VIDEO: San Diego Zoo says farewell to last 2 giant pandas


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