Bao Bao, the 3-year-old giant panda who rose to fame while growing up on live video at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, left for her new home in China on Tuesday under a long-standing breeding and research program.
Bao Bao could be seen in live video provided by the zoo being loaded, inside her crate, onto a Boeing 777F aircraft at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia for Chengdu, China, reports Reuters.
The freighter, customized with an image of a giant panda emblazoned on its side, took off just before 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT)
“Today is bittersweet,” zoo Director Dennis Kelly said in a statement. “We’ve watched Bao Bao grow up during the past three years, and she has charmed people all over the world with her independent and playful personality.”
The giant panda now enters “the next chapter of her life,” Kelly said.