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National Zoo Says Bye Bye To Bao Bao

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And I'm Rachel Martin in Washington, D.C. And this city is saying goodbye to one of our most famous residents. A panda cub named Bao Bao is moving to China.

PAMELA BAKER-MASSON: It's bittersweet to let her go.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That is zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson. Bao Bao is going to make the 16-hour journey aboard a FedEx cargo plane.

MARTIN: Masson says the panda will have plenty of leg room in her crate, and her vet and keeper will provide first-class in-flight service.

BAKER-MASSON: Fifty pounds of bamboo and an assortment of apples and sweet potatoes.

GREENE: (Laughter) I love it. So Bao Bao's new home is going to be the China Conservation Research Center in Sichuan, where she will eventually join a breeding program.

BAKER-MASSON: Giant pandas have been moved off of the endangered list to now vulnerable, but that doesn't mean that they're in the clear yet. What we need to do is get pandas reintroduced to the wild.

MARTIN: The National Zoo did not let Bao Bao go without a delicious parting gift.

BAKER-MASSON: A 4-foot tall - we call it a fruitsicle. It's frozen ice diluted with fruit juice, and it was in in the shape of a Chinese pagoda. She loved it.

MARTIN: The panda flies out this afternoon. Bye bye, Bao Bao. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.