Panda poised for new life in Sichuan

By HUANG ZHILING in Ya'an, Sichuan and ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-20 07:45
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Bei Bei undergoes a physical checkup on Nov 13 before leaving the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Four-year stay in United States ends for Bei Bei

It was nearly 4 pm on Monday, time for the indoor giant panda habitat at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington to be cleaned by keepers.

But dozens of visitors still lingered at the glass enclosure where 4-year-old male Bei Bei was playing.

They were following every move of the bear, ahead of his imminent departure.

As the animal was scheduled to leave for Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Tuesday, one video blogger from Los Angeles livestreamed footage of Bei Bei foraging in the den and eating a carrot, the animal's last meal in public in the United States.

Thousands of visitors joined "Bye Bye, Bei Bei", the zoo's weeklong celebratory event, to bid farewell to the "American Sweetheart", as he is known by some.

When he arrives in China on Wednesday, he will be in the care of Su Lingxiao during a 30-day quarantine period.

Su, 25, works as a keeper at the China Conservation and Research Center Base for the Giant Panda in Ya'an, Sichuan province.

As a young girl, Su raised rabbits in her home village in Longchang county, Sichuan.

Su, who majored in animal medicine at Jilin Agricultural Science and Technology University, has worked at the base since completing her university studies in 2016. Her duties include placing bundles of bamboo in panda pens and clearing away droppings.

"I feel very nervous because Bei Bei has received a lot of attention. But I think I can do well as I have accumulated a lot of experience in panda management," Su said. "I have taken care of about 10 pandas (at the base)."

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