Bye bye Bei Bei: Washington bids farewell to last panda cub

  • Sunday 17, November 2019 09:33 AM
Sharjah24 – AFP: He was born in Washington and took his first steps in the US capital, but at age four, it's time to head "home" -- to China.
Bei Bei, the last young panda living at the National Zoo, will leave Washington on Tuesday aboard a specially outfitted FedEx plane, as planned even before he took his first breath.

Such are the strict rules of "panda diplomacy."

In front of the zoo's panda enclosure on a chilly day, schoolchildren in winter coats and hats line up to say farewell, many of them with signs reading "Bye bye Bei Bei."

The National Zoo -- a branch of the venerable Smithsonian, the world's largest museum and research complex -- has organised a week of events to celebrate the departure of Bei Bei, which means "precious, treasure" in Mandarin.

Kids can write postcards for the panda, which will go with him to China, watch zookeepers offer him special treats, attend Q&A sessions with zoo personnel or just watch him play.

Through it all, Bei Bei.... munches on bamboo.