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 will leave the zoo Nov. 3. And the National Zoo in Washington said it will be saying bye-bye to panda cub Bao Bao in 2017. The zoo didn't give a date. But the cub will move to China within the first few months of the new year. 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 that are on loan from China. As part of the loan agreement, pandas born in the United States return to China, generally 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, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, 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 born at Zoo Atlanta on Sept. 3.
In Washington, Bao Bao delighted the zoo and panda fans when she was born Aug. 23, 2013. Her mother, Mei Xiang, gave birth to her first cub, Tai Shan, in 2005, but 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 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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Why does China keep such tight control on pandas?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • prestonh-lew
    10/27/2016 - 12:57 p.m.

    I think it is a good idea for pandas to go to China so they can experience a new environment.

  • adriana-lew
    10/27/2016 - 01:02 p.m.

    I hope they don't take them they are a fun sight to see at the zoo and make funny internet videos.

  • sonikap-lam
    10/28/2016 - 01:35 p.m.

    This is really sad...I hope that one day we might be able to keep the pandas born here, or at least a few.

  • elliei-lam
    10/28/2016 - 02:30 p.m.

    I think that since the population of pandas are decreasing more and more, they want to keep the rest that are still alive so that the pandas don't become extinct. They could be harmed in their foreign country of the United States, but could be more at home in China and more safe in their home country.

  • alexw3-har
    10/28/2016 - 02:47 p.m.

    By taking care of them and make sure they are safe. Pandas are hard to find because theirs 54 of them in the world and it means that we need to keep them safe. We can also keep them safe by keeping them a zoo and can breed them and hopefully get more pandas.

  • joep-mac
    11/02/2016 - 11:45 a.m.

    I think its good because pandas can go from where they originate. They also have their own habitat and weather and food that pandas eat.

  • tgracie-dav
    11/03/2016 - 05:21 p.m.

    In response to "Bye bye, Bao Bao! Pandas leaving U.S.," I agree that the pandas should go to china. One reason is that they can breed more pandas . Another reason is that so they can experience a new environment. A third reason is that they belong in their natural environment. Even though pandas are a fun thing to see at the zoo, I think that this move will be better for the pandas.

  • bmaria-dav
    11/03/2016 - 08:38 p.m.

    In response to "Bye bye, Bao Bao! Pandas leaving U.S.," I agree that the panda trade should continue. One reason I agree is that without this trading, the panda bear population in China would VERY much decrease . Another reason is that if we kept all the pandas that were born here, here, we wouldn't have enough room for more pandas . It says in the article "In Atlanta, a crate is already part of the pandas' enclosure." I think that there should at least be cushioning in that crate to keep the pandas safe . A third reason if all the pandas stayed here, the panda food would become scarce, and there wouldn't be enough foo to feed them. Even though having more pandas in zoo's in the United States would be amazing to go and see, I think that they should go back to their native country.

  • mskyler-dav
    11/04/2016 - 06:56 a.m.

    In response to "Bye bye, Bao Bao! Pandas leaving U.S.," I agree that the females should be moved so they can breed and have more panda babies. One reason I disagree is because then the U.S. won't have as much pandas. Another reason I agree is because we would get more pandas in the world. It says in the article "All three pandas leaving for China are females. They are expected to eventually become part of a breeding program there." This is saying that the females are going off to China to make more and help the panda species. Even though they are going to leave us, I think they will get perfectly taken care of at the breeding center.

  • alexandriag-moo
    11/17/2016 - 12:43 p.m.

    I like this article, but i wish the U.S could keep some of the panda cups instead of sending them to china.

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