Bye bye, Bao Bao! Pandas leaving U.S. In this Aug. 23, 2014 file photo, panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington in Washington. The National Zoo will be saying bye-bye to panda cub Bao Bao. The zoo said Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, that Bao Bao will move to China within the first few months of 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bye bye, Bao Bao! Pandas leaving U.S.
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The panda population in the United States is dropping by three.
 
Atlanta's zoo has announced that its 3-year-old giant panda twins are leaving. They will depart the zoo Nov. 3. And the National Zoo in Washington said it will be saying bye-bye to panda cub Bao Bao. That will happen next year. The zoo didn't give a date. But the cub will move to China within the first few months of 2017. Both zoos said it is better for pandas to travel in the winter months, when it is cool.
 
A total of four U.S. zoos have pandas. The animals are on loan from China. The loan agreement mandates that pandas born in the United States return to China. They generally go around age 4. All three pandas leaving for China are females. They are expected to eventually become part of a breeding program there.
 
When they leave, a dozen pandas will remain in the United States: four in Atlanta, three in Washington, three in San Diego and two in Memphis.
 
Atlanta's departing panda twins are Mei Lun and Mei Huan. They were born July 15, 2013. They were the first surviving panda twins born in the United States. The zoo's head veterinarian said that when the two were young, Mei Lun was a little bit of a complainer while Mei Huan was more "go with the flow." Those differences have smoothed out as they aged. They have since been joined by a second pair of twins. Those were born at Zoo Atlanta on Sept. 3.
 
In Washington, Bao Bao delighted the zoo and panda fans. She was born Aug. 23, 2013. Her mother, Mei Xiang, gave birth to her first cub, Tai Shan, in 2005. But Mei Xiang failed to get pregnant for years. Then, a cub born in 2012 didn't survive. Mei Xiang has since had a third surviving cub, Bei Bei, who was born on Aug. 22, 2015. Older brother Tai Shan left the zoo for China in 2010.
 
Both zoos say they're preparing for the pandas' departure. In Washington, a travel crate will soon be placed in Bao Bao's habitat. That is so she can get used to it. In Atlanta, a crate is already part of the pandas' enclosure.
 
Both zoos also have their packing lists. In Washington, it includes 55 pounds of bamboo, 2 pounds of apples and pears and 10 gallons of water. Zoo Atlanta's list is double that size. It includes sugarcane and bananas.
 
National Zoo panda curator Michael Brown-Palsgrove had some words of comfort for fans sad to say "bon voyage" to Bao Bao. He emphasized the "very important role" she will play by returning to China. She will become part of the breeding program there.
 
Zoo Atlanta's head veterinarian is Hayley Murphy, the vice president of Animal Divisions. She acknowledged the pandas' departure is bittersweet.
 
"We've loved having two grow up together. It's been really fun to watch them play and entertain each other," she said.
 
Panda enthusiasts in Atlanta do have something to look forward to even as Mei Lun and Mei Huan depart. Their 6-week-old siblings are expected to make their public debut in December or January.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does China keep such tight control on pandas?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (159)
  • eharlan-dav
    10/26/2016 - 06:38 p.m.

    In response to "Bye bye, Bao Bao! Pandas leaving U.S.", I agree that the pandas should be moved back to China. One reason I agree is it would help get pandas back to their natural and healthy habitat. Another reason is, their is a repopulation service in China that is trying to bring back pandas. It says in the article "The animals are on loan from China. The loan agreement mandates that pandas born in the United States return to China. They generally go around age 4. All three pandas leaving for China are females. They are expected to eventually become part of a breeding program there." This very long quote helps explain why the pandas are going back to China for the breeding program. Even though some people think its good for pandas to be spread out around the world, they should be in their own, original habitat.

  • dylans1-har
    10/27/2016 - 07:30 a.m.

    Why does China keep such tight control on pandas?
    China does this so the pandas don't go extinct. They are not making this happen by breeding the pandas. China takes the pandas from the United States so they can go to the breeding program. China also lets the U.S loan them but they take them back after they turn 3 or 4 years old.
    They will keep a limit of a dozen of pandas in the United States.

  • susieo-coo-coo
    10/27/2016 - 09:30 a.m.

    I'm not sure if China needs tight control on pandas. The reason I think it's better because pandas aren't going extinct and it's not like the pandas are going to walk right into someone's house and take all the food in the fridge. So that's why I think China shouldn't have to much panda control.

  • arlog-mcd
    10/27/2016 - 11:28 a.m.

    That I think maybe because they are very rare animals and it's better if they are in the wild

  • hailey1-fel
    10/27/2016 - 12:27 p.m.

    The reason China keeps such a tight control on pandas is because they are going extinct

  • amanda1-fel
    10/27/2016 - 12:27 p.m.

    this is amazing facts,and everything about these panda's but why are they getting shipped to china at age 4?

  • alysse1-fel
    10/27/2016 - 12:27 p.m.

    They keep such control because the don't want them to go extinct.

  • bryan1-fel
    10/27/2016 - 12:28 p.m.

    I think he or she did this great job. It was full of information.

  • jaidyn1-fel
    10/27/2016 - 12:30 p.m.

    I honestly wish that China would allow some US born pandas stay. I mean why do you HAVE to take back the ones born here yes I am grateful that they have loaned us such great pandas but maybe letting the panda population grow here wouldn't be so bad...

  • brandon2-fel
    10/27/2016 - 12:32 p.m.

    I liked the article because it talks about the pandas and what there purpose is when they leave for china 10 out of 10.

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