As Bao Bao begins her journey to China, let’s take a moment to thank all the panda fans who make it possible for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute to save giant pandas. Here’s a look back at what Bao Bao means to all of us.
Giant Panda Bao Bao: All the Feels
Bao Bao, the National Zoo’s 3½-year-old giant panda, left for Chengdu, China Feb. 21 aboard a specially outfitted “Panda Express” FedEx 777F plane. Marty Dearie, one of the keepers who has cared for Bao Bao since her birth, and Katharine Hope, veterinarian at the Zoo, made the 8,508-mile, 16-hour trip with her. Bao Bao’s departure from the Zoo was broadcast via Facebook Live.
Upon arrival in Chengdu, Bao Bao’s new keepers from China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda drove her to Dujiangyan Panda Base where she will stay in quarantine for approximately 30 days. The American team followed, and Dearie remained with Bao Bao for three days while she acclimated to her new home. Bao Bao will enter the giant panda breeding program when she reaches sexual maturity between 5 and 6 years old.
Bao Bao was born at 5:32 p.m. Aug. 23, 2013, at the Zoo’s David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. Her name translates to “precious” or “treasure” in Chinese. Both Mrs. Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, and Madame Peng Liyuan, First Lady of China, sent congratulatory messages for her naming ceremony when she was 100 days old. At her first birthday zhuazhou (dra-JO) ceremony, she selected a banner depicting peaches, representing longevity. She is the second surviving cub of her parents Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN).
Giant pandas are listed as “vulnerable” in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are an estimated 1,800 in the wild. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is a leader in giant panda conservation. Ever since these charismatic bears arrived at the Zoo in 1972, animal care staff and scientists have studied giant panda biology, behavior, breeding, reproduction and disease. These experts are also leading ecology studies in giant pandas’ native habitat. The Zoo’s giant panda team works closely with colleagues in China to advance conservation efforts around the world. Chinese scientists are working to reintroduce giant pandas to the wild.
Posted: 28 February 2017