National Zoo's Giant Panda Bao Bao to Move to China in 2017 | NBC Chicago
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National Zoo's Giant Panda Bao Bao to Move to China in 2017

While an exact date for her departure was not given, the zoo says Bao Bao will move in late winter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    You have just a few more months to visit Bao Bao at the National Zoo.

    The 3-year-old giant panda is moving to China within the first few months of 2017 to enter the its panda breeding program, the National Zoo said Thursday.

    All panda cubs born at the zoo move to China by the time they turn 4. Bao Bao will turn 4 Aug. 23, 2017. 

    "We are sad to see her go, but excited for the contributions she is going to continue to make to the global giant panda population,” said Brandie Smith, associate director of animal care sciences at the zoo in Washington, D.C.

    Bao Bao's keepers are already preparing her for the trip by getting her acclimated to a travel crate. While an exact date for her departure was not given, the zoo says Bao Bao will move in late winter.

    The zoo says it's better for pandas to travel in the winter months when its cool. A team will travel with Bao Bao to ensure she's comfortable throughout the trip. 

    The zoo is planning a farewell party for Bao Bao, but details about the public celebration have not been released. 

    Bao Bao is the second of three surviving cubs born to Mei Xiang during her time at the zoo. She now weighs 180 pounds and is classified as a "sub-adult.'' Pandas can begin breeding between the ages of 4 and 6.