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Zoo Atlanta’s panda, Mei Lan, to depart for China Feb. 4

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Mei Lan at Zoo Atlanta in February 2008. She leaves for China on Feb. 4. AJC file photo

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!

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

18 comments Add your comment


February 4th, 2010
12:28 pm

We will all miss you Mei Lan,you have been apart of all our lives. Everyone that has made some mean comment, doesn’t have any love for themselves much less a human life, rather its a dog,cat, or bear it doesn’t matter. She bought joy to the world.God created all of us to love life for any human or living creature! Check your self and go to church Sunday and here the word! Peace and Love :-)


February 2nd, 2010
6:35 pm

Ok every needs to stop being mean. We will all miss her!!!!!!!


February 2nd, 2010
10:12 am

I will miss Mei Lan too. I travelled from the UK to see her in her cub days. I am sad that I will not have the chance to see her again. I will also miss Mark Davis’ write ups about her…. Go Mei Lan and have a wonderful life in China, wow those boy-pandas with those gorgeous fluffy cheeks of yours.


January 30th, 2010
1:38 pm

Once I have found out Mei Lan was leaving, I just can’t stop crying….She is our Atlanta Beauty and nobody can’t take that away from her. I have just recently move from Atlanta, but Atlanta Zoo with the Pandas will always give me the best joy. I will miss you very much. and you will always be in my heart. GBY – Mei Lan Rocks

Mike Licht

January 30th, 2010
11:46 am

The panedas will be shipped to China by FedEx. If no one’s home, leave them with the neighbors in Mongolia.



January 30th, 2010
11:26 am

It will be a little sad not seeing the beautiful Mei Lan on the camera at Zoo Atlanta any more, but at least she is still in good health and I hope she settles in well in China and is taken good care of. To all those spiteful people making silly comments, if you have nothing else to do but try to upset other people, how sad you are. May the bird of paradise fly up your nose! May an elephant caress you with its toes!


January 29th, 2010
3:15 pm

How sad and rude some of your comments are. I have watched Mei Lan since she was born on a almost daily basis. To watch a small creature grow into such a beautiful animal brings a smile to many faces. While taking a few moments to watch her play and to read about her daily activities has warmed my heart. I traveled to Atlanta on a business trip when Mei was only 3 month old and was fortunante to see her. I want to Thank the Atlanta Zoo for sharing Mei with us and the execellent job they have done in preparing her for new life in China.


January 27th, 2010
10:14 pm

I knew this time was coming, but when I heard Mei Lan would be leaving on 2/04, I almost cried! I have watched her grow from a “stick of butter” to the big, beautiful panda she is now. She would make me laugh with her silliness and would make my day! Mei Lan, we love you and will miss you dearly.. have a beautiful life.