We all knew it was coming, but it appears the countdown can start: Zoo Atlanta’s first panda cub is moving back to China next month.
The Washington Post reported today that when the National Zoo’s four-year-old panda, Tai Shan, departs Washington on Feb. 4 to go back to China — with Mei Lan.
Zoo Atlanta has not yet confirmed the last day she will be on view or plans for a farewell celebration. Only the zoo’s MySpace page confirmed the Feb. 4 panda plane-pool. A press release Tuesday afternoon said the zoos plan to make a joint announcement about the panda departures later this week.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Zoo Atlanta spokeswoman Keisha Hines said they’re planning a going-away party for Mei Lan from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Details will be announced later this week. Mei Lan will remain on view through the weekend.
Feb. 3 will be the last day to see the National Zoo’s panda prince on display.
From the Post:
Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, calling the news “bittersweet,” said Tai Shan will travel on a FedEx flight and be accompanied by a panda from a zoo in Atlanta. The nonstop flight is scheduled to depart from Dulles International Airport early in the morning. An Atlanta zoo spokeswoman said that its panda is a 3-year-old female named Mei Lan.
Mei Lan, whose name means “Atlanta Beauty,” was the first panda born in captivity at Zoo Atlanta. The decade long panda loan with China was recently extended for five years, so Mei Lan’s parents, mom Lun Lun, dad Yang Yang and boy sibling Xi Lan, will remain in Atlanta.
We’ll follow up with more details as they become available.
Will you miss Mei Lan? Will you go to a good-bye party? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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