Bon voyage, Bao Bao! National Zoo panda heads to China soon

Bao Bao
FILE – 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 says 3-year-old panda Bao Bao is heading to China this month. The zoo tweeted Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, that Bao Bao will fly to China on Feb. 21. The zoo recently announced a celebration of Bao Bao starting Feb. 16 in anticipation of her departure. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) ((AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File))
Bao Bao, the giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, will move to China when she turns 4. Bao Bao, 3, will turn 4 on Aug. 23, 2017, but zoo officials are keeping her move-out date secret. (CNS/ Tom Hausman)
Bao Bao, the giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, will move to China when she turns 4. Bao Bao, 3, will turn 4 on Aug. 23, 2017, but zoo officials are keeping her move-out date secret. (CNS/ Tom Hausman) (CNS/ Tom Hausman)
In this photo taken Sept. 25, 2015, panda cub Bao Bao, roams in an enclosure at the Smithsonian's National Zoo 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/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this photo taken Sept. 25, 2015, panda cub Bao Bao, roams in an enclosure at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo 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/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bao Bao
Bao Bao has the distinction of being the first surviving cub born at the zoo since 2005. (Courtesy National Zoo) (Courtesy National Zoo)
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Bao Bao turns 3. (Courtesy National Zoo) (Courtesy National Zoo)
(Courtesy National Zoo)
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Bao Bao has been a popular attraction at the National Zoo. (Courtesy National Zoo) (Courtesy National Zoo)
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Giant panda Bao Bao climbs a tree in 2014. (Courtesy National Zoo) (Courtesy National Zoo)
(Courtesy National Zoo)
Giant panda Bao Bao in the snow Jan. 21, 2016. (Devin Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)
Giant panda Bao Bao in the snow Jan. 21, 2016. (Devin Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo) (Devin Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)
Bao Bao and Mei Xiang explored the snow in January.  (Photo: Devin Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)
Bao Bao and Mei Xiang explored the snow in January. (Photo: Devin Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo)
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Bao Bao
Bao Bao, the giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, will move to China when she turns 4. Bao Bao, 3, will turn 4 on Aug. 23, 2017, but zoo officials are keeping her move-out date secret. (CNS/ Tom Hausman)
In this photo taken Sept. 25, 2015, panda cub Bao Bao, roams in an enclosure at the Smithsonian's National Zoo 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/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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Bao Bao
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Giant panda Bao Bao in the snow Jan. 21, 2016. (Devin Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)
Bao Bao and Mei Xiang explored the snow in January.  (Photo: Devin Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Visitors only have two more weeks to catch Bao Bao at the National Zoo before the 3-year-old panda flies to her new home in China.

The zoo tweeted Monday that Bao Bao will move to China on Feb. 21. The zoo recently announced a celebration of Bao Bao starting Feb. 16 in anticipation of her departure.

The zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association requires all cubs born at the zoo move to China by the time they turn 4 years old. Bao Bao turns 4 on Aug. 23.

Bao Bao is the first surviving cub born at the zoo since 2005. Older brother Tai Shan left for China in 2010. Their mother, Mei Xiang, has since had a third surviving cub, Bei Bei, who was born on Aug. 22, 2015.

The zoo is hosting a number of public events to bid Bao Bao farewell.

On Feb. 21, a special forklift will transport Bao Bao’s transport crate to a waiting FedEx truck, which will then take her to Dulles International Airport where she’ll board the “FedEx Panda Express” a special Boeing 777 outfitted with custom decals for a nonstop flight to Chengu, China along with a crew of animal-care experts.

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