WASHINGTON — On Nov. 19, D.C. will have to say one of its hardest goodbyes, to beloved panda Bei Bei. The four-year-old panda will leave the Smithsonian National Zoo for China as part of the panda diplomacy program between the U.S and China. An agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association requires all cubs born at the zoo to move to China when they turn four years old.
Bei Bei will play in his outside habitat for the last time on Tuesday, Nov. 19 between 7 and 8 a.m. before he makes his way to Dulles Airport for a long flight.
To give his many adoring fans time to bid Bei Bei farewell, the Smithsonian National Zoo is hosting a series of public events from Nov. 11 through Nov. 18. Panda Cam 1 will focus exclusively on Bei Bei for the duration of his "goodbye week."
Through Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can visit Bei Bei in his outdoor habitat and write a postcard that will get sent to China with Bei Bei. At 11 a.m. panda keepers will be on hand to answer all your Bei Bei questions.
Each day at 9 a.m. keepers will give Bei Bei special themed enrichment activities signifying what comes next for the lovable bear, such as siring cubs of his own. And at 1:30 p.m., the guest of honor will get one of his favorite treats from honey to pumpkin spice, applesauce or sugar cane.
On Saturday and Sunday, keepers are preparing special ice cakes for Bei Bei, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. guests can make their own red friendship and luck bracelets, similar to the one that Mei Xiang chose for Bei Bei on his first birthday.
The Embassy of China will also be handing out dumplings at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 16.
You can see the full list of "Bye Bye Bei Bei" activities here.
Bei Bei was given his name, which means 'precious' or 'treasure', five weeks after his birth by U.S. and Chinese First Ladies Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan.
Bei Bei will be accompanied by one panda keeper and a veterinarian on his non-stop flight from D.C. to Chengdu, China aboard the "FedEx Panda Express" -- a custom-decaled 777F.
Bei Bei’s team will monitor him throughout the flight, and make sure he has a ready supply of his favorite treats.