The giant panda “Bei Bei” is four years old. He was born in 2015 in Washington D.C. and the first ladies of US and China attended his naming ceremony. They were Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan. The giant panda has to go back to China as per the terms of panda diplomacy. His address, until now, was the National Zoo. FedEx has prepared a special plane to shift him to China. His name is Bei Bei, which, in Mandarin, means “precious, treasure.” He loves to munch bamboo and there will be loads of them in the 16-hour flight. Right now, he tips the scales at 114kg. There was a time in the past when Beijing gave pandas to friendly nations. However, they fall in the category of vulnerable and endangered. Hence, China lends them to zoos around the world for return once they reach the age of four.
It is a delicate task
Moving the giant panda “Bei Bei” to another continent is a delicate task. His keepers have trained him to sit in the crate in which he will travel to China. The FedEx flight is a nonstop flight from Washington to Chengdu. It will be a Boeing 777 called the “Panda Express.” There will be a keeper and a veterinarian who will accompany him. They are voracious eaters and there will be a huge stock of bamboo. Apart from that, there will be plenty of fruits, with sugarcane, honey, and biscuits for variety.
China’s “panda diplomacy”
The concept of panda diplomacy is unique and has evolved over the years. Instead of gifting the pandas, China lends them to other countries with the condition that they will come back once they are four years old. That way they can breed at local sanctuaries. Bei Bei’s siblings are already back in their homeland.