Bao Bao lands safely in China after return from US | Updated: 2017-02-23 00:34

Bao Bao lands safely in China after return from US

Chinese staff prepare to unload Bao Bao. [Photo/Xinhua]

After a flight lasting almost 17 hours, an aircraft that left from Washington in the US with panda Bao Bao on board landed safely at Chengdu airport, in Southwestern China's Sichuan province, at 6:59 pm local time on Wednesday.

Bao Bao, a 3-and-a-half-year-old female giant panda that had lived at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, left the United States on Tuesday afternoon, aboard a FedEx Panda Express 777F airplane.

The 200-pound animal will spend one month in quarantine in a 100 square meter "apartment" for the returning overseas pandas in the Dujiangyan Panda Base, where she will be greeted by her new keepers from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda and get acclimatized to the accents of her new keepers and the local food.

She may have the opportunity to meet her brother for the first time – 12-year-old Tai Shan, who returned to China from the US in 2010. Both are the offspring of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The parents still reside at the zoo in Washington.

It is not yet known whether Bao Bao will continue to live at the Dujiangyan center after her quarantine is over. She will eventually join the giant panda breeding program after the reaches the age at which pandas mate - between 5and 6 years old.

Bao Bao, which translates to “precious treasure”, was born on Aug 23, 2013 through artificial insemination. At her naming ceremony when she turned 100 days old, China’s first lady Peng Liyuan and then US first lady Michelle Obama sent video greetings.

Under a bilateral agreement between the National Zoo and China, panda cubs born at the zoo to pandas on loan from China belong to China and should be returned to China before they reach the age of four so they can join the breeding program.

Bao Bao lands safely in China after return from US

The plane carrying Bao Bao lands at the airport in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Wednesday evening. [Photo provided to]

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