Giant panda Bao Bao and Zoo staff landed at China’s Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport around 6:59 p.m. CST. Aboard the “FedEx Panda Express,” a custom-decaled 777F aircraft, Bao Bao’s non-stop 16-hour flight departed Feb. 21, at 1:55 p.m. EST from Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.
“Bao Bao was a real champion during the flight. All the weeks of training and preparation served her really well,” said Marty Dearie, “She’s in excellent hands now and I’m glad I get to transition with our Chinese partners and have my ‘goodbye’ in a couple days.”
Upon arrival in Chengdu, Bao Bao’s new keepers from China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda drove her to Dujiangyan Panda Base where she will stay in quarantine for approximately 30 days. Keeper Marty Dearie will remain with Bao Bao for three days while she acclimates to her new home. It is not confirmed if Bao Bao will remain at Dujiangyan after the quarantine period has ended. Bao Bao will enter the giant panda breeding program when she reaches sexual maturity between 5 and 6 years old.
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Photo: Katharine Hope/Smithsonian's National Zoo