PHOTOS: National Zoo visitors bid farewell to pandas on Panda Palooza celebration’s last day

The National Zoo is saying goodbye to its giant pandas before their return to China with a celebration called “Panda Palooza,” which had its last day on Sunday.

The zoo is getting ready to send their last three giant pandas — Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and Xiao Qi Ji — to join their relatives back in China as a 50-year scientific collaboration between the U.S. and China comes to an end. The pandas were only meant to stay for 10 years, but the agreement with China was extended several times.

Frederick, Maryland, resident Erica Jones, who says pandas are her favorite animal, came to catch a last glimpse.

“We love the pandas here in D.C.,” said Jones, who was joined by her husband Kenny and daughter Monica. The three were decked out in panda-themed outfits.

“I’m super sad about them leaving,” she said. “I wish they would stay longer. This will be my daughter’s first time seeing the pandas, and I would love for her to see them some more.”

Seven-year-old Michael Meyers from Phoenix, Arizona, held a large stuffed panda, on his way to see the real thing.

“The baby pandas are the cutest because they like rolling around,” he said.

See photos of the Panda Palooza’s last day in our gallery.

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