Giant pandas Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Xiao Qi Ji set out for China on November 8. The left the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute at 9:31 a.m. EST, heading for Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia, where they boarded a FedEx Panda Express Boeing 777F that was specially decaled.
The journey from Washington, D.C. to Chengdu, China over the Pacific includes a quick stop in Anchorage, Alaska for refueling. They landed at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 11:23 p.m. China Standard Time and reached the gate at 11:30 p.m. following a lengthy trip that included a lot of bamboo. We would also like to thank FedEx, our partners, for their elegant delivery of our Very Important Pandas!
The pandas were securely unpacked from their specially designed transit containers at the airport. This panda disembarkation video was given by our veterinarian. On the tarmac, the pandas were greeted by their new caretakers from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, who then took them to the ShenShuPing Campus in Wolong. For a few days, as the pandas settle in, our animal care crew will be present.
Through their visits to us in Washington, D.C., and through our Giant Panda Cam, millions of people have become acquainted with and grown to love Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their babies. The first step in developing a deeper sense of compassion for the natural world and our part in it is to care for one animal and its future. We must honor these bears and their contribution to our knowledge, treatment, and preservation of giant pandas, despite the bittersweet nature of this departure.