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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!

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18 comments Add your comment

JAY YOUNG

January 26th, 2010
3:45 pm

This is sad. Remember when we all watched her first steps, etc.

Kellie Kakes

January 26th, 2010
7:00 pm

It’s a bear. NO! I will not miss a bear. Maybe a lonely person would miss a animal. WTF!!

null

January 26th, 2010
7:13 pm

Did she pay taxes? If not…..no.

Vicki

January 26th, 2010
7:47 pm

I will miss her. She’s a native Atlantan and a beautiful girl-bear.

Pam Moran

January 26th, 2010
7:59 pm

Yes, we’ll miss her. She was born in the U.S.A. That ought to make her a U.S. citizen, regardless of the contract.

Gloria

January 26th, 2010
8:08 pm

Yes my family will miss her. She may not have paid taxes, but she earned her keep by bringing interest and visitors to the zoo. Of course I cried when Willie B died…at least this isn’t that sad.

Vicky

January 26th, 2010
8:33 pm

How pitiful that you measure the benefit to existence by whether she pays taxes, or whether she’s an animal. Republican by any chance?

Lynne Everett

January 27th, 2010
1:02 am

I am so sad, I even cried as I remember seeing her born and watching her grow. I have not been able to see her yet. I will make a point go see her little brother though. I wish we could keep them here in the states.

mary

January 27th, 2010
9:01 am

It’s a shame that Mei Lan has to go & leave to go to china. She seemed happy Living here. Hopefully someday, we’ll be able to keep them here, instead of sending them to china or some other country. Wish that panda a good healthy life. Hope all goes good for her. Bless her heart. Take care mei Lan. We’ll miss ya not being here. Your always on our mind. Love ya. Mary & family.

kathy

January 27th, 2010
1:14 pm

Hello from Canada where we also love Mei Lan! We’ve watched her grow up on the panda cam and will miss her very much. She doesn’t have to pay taxes, the joy she brings to people seeing her is payment enough. We will miss you Mei Lan and you will always be in our hearts no matter where you are!

Betty

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.

Pamela

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.

Jacqui

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!

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.

See:

http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/the-panda-express

Ana

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

Jane

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.

Tana

February 2nd, 2010
6:35 pm

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

Tia

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 :-)