28.2 C
Manila
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Home News World Nearly-extinct panda goes home

Nearly-extinct panda goes home

 

The US-born giant panda Bei Bei on Wednesday left the only home he has known at the National Zoo in Washington for a 16-hour flight back to China as part of its research and breeding program.

Bei Bei will travel on a specially equipped direct flight from Washington to Chengdu inside a steel and plexiglass crate, accompanied by his keeper and a veterinarian, zoo officials said.

Washington, D.C.: In this file photo taken on November 14, 2019 Giant panda Bei Bei rests at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC. The US-born panda Bei Bei on November 19, 2019 left the only home he has known at the National Zoo in Washington for a 16-hour flight to China, the land the cub’s ancestors.Bei Bei will travel on a direct flight from Washington to Chengdu inside a special steel and plexiglass crate accompanied by his keeper and a veterinarian, zoo officials said. The four year-old cub, whose name means “precious, treasure” in Mandarin, was destined to head to China, all part of China’s “panda diplomacy.” AFP PHOTO

The four-year-old cub, whose name means “precious, treasure” in Mandarin, was destined to head to China under Beijing’s “panda diplomacy.”

China lends pandas to zoos around the world, as the animals are considered “vulnerable” to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Once a young panda reaches the age of four, he or she is repatriated to breed with other animals at sanctuaries in China. “Today is bittersweet,” said zoo director Steve Monfort.

“We’ve cared for Bei Bei, and along with millions, watched him grow into a true ambassador for his species,” Monfort added.

“We look forward to continuing our 47-year giant panda conservation program and collaboration with Chinese colleagues to study, care for and help save the giant panda and its native habitat.”

FedEx is paying for the flight and the special outfitting of the Boeing 777 — called the “Panda Express” for the occasion.

The National Zoo staff has prepared a special stash of treats for him: 66 pounds (30 kilos) of bamboo, two pounds of apples and pears, two pounds of cooked sweet potatoes, two bags of biscuits and water, officials said.

Bei Bei’s siblings, brother Tai Shan and sister Bao Bao, have already been returned to China, while his father Tian Tian and mother Mei Xiang will remain at the National Zoo until at least December 2020.

Bei Bei was born in August 2015, and his name was announced with great fanfare at an event with then-first lady Michelle Obama and her Chinese counterpart Peng Liyuan.

AFP

World powers in Berlin to seek elusive Libya peace

BERLIN: World leaders gather in Berlin on Sunday to make a fresh push for peace in Libya, in a desperate bid to stop the...

Downtrend in Taal Volcano activity observed but major eruption still possible–Phivolcs

THE Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has observed a downtrend in Taal Volcano’s activity on Sunday but maintained Alert Level 4 over Taal...

China reports 17 new cases of mystery virus

BEIJING: China reported 17 new cases of the mysterious SARS-like virus on Sunday, including three in a severe condition, heightening fears ahead of China's...

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles

LONDON: Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the...

Oil companies slash pump prices anew

OIL companies announced a hefty rollback in prices of petroleum products, reducing the cost of gasoline by 90 centavos per liter and diesel by...