Before Bei Bei’s big move, fans say farewell during his final weekend at National Zoo

Bei Bei enjoys a bamboo stalk at his goodbye party. (Courtesy National Zoo)
(Courtesy National Zoo)
Bei Bei sits in a hammock. (Courtesy National Zoo)
(Courtesy National Zoo)
The Zoo released photos of Bei Bei when he was a baby. (Courtesy National Zoo)
Bei Bei and his celebratory cake on Nov. 16, 2019. (Courtesy National Zoo)
Spectators watch Bei Bei munch on bamboo at his Saturday farewell party on Nov. 16, 2019. (Courtesy National Zoo)
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Bei Bei is heading to China Tuesday, but not without the proper sendoff from his adoring fans.

Sunday morning, dozens of people gathered around his exhibit waving and snapping their last photos of the 4-year-old giant panda before he leaves for China.

For Sydney Santos and her little sisters Lilly and Emily, parting is sweet sorrow.

“I want to not let him leave the zoo! We’re going to make him postcards,” Sydney said as she waved and shouted goodbye.

Fans rang in Bei Bei’s last weekend with warm cups of free hot chocolate and personalized postcards to send with him on his journey. The three giant pandas also celebrated with ice cakes as part of the celebration.

It’s all part of the partnership with the China Wildlife Conservation Association.

Lisa Morin and her friend Katalin Kerekes also visited the National Zoo, snapping photos of Bei Bei, a tradition they’ve kept up almost every weekend.

“It’s been so much fun. We’ve gotten a lot of great photos over the years. This is really, really bittersweet for us,” said Kerekes. “We’re so excited about his next chapter. We’re excited for him to have some cubs of his own.”

And while his absence will be felt at the National ZOo come next weekend, Morin and Kerekes are hoping for updates once he settles into his new home.

“Hopefully we’ll get to follow his story,” Morin said.

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