Giant panda Bao Bao moving to China

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WASHINGTON, DC -- The Smithsonian National Zoo is getting ready to bid farewell to one of its giant pandas.

Bao Bao is leaving the Zoo and moving to China. The National Zoo said this is part of a cooperative breeding program with the China Wildlife Association (CWCA). Through this program, pandas leave the Zoo when they turn four; the National Zoo explains that pandas reach sexual maturity between 5 and 6 years old.

Bao Bao is moving a six months before she turns four.  During her journey one zoo keeper and one veterinarian will travel to with her.  But before she leaves, the National Zoo has a series of events planned so that her fans get to say good-bye. The events kick off Thursday, February 16, with the zoo's panda team taking over the Smithsonian's Instagram account. The last event planned is on Monday, February 20. To check out more on the events planned for the giant panda check out the Smithsonian's calendar.

For safety and security of the panda and staff, the Zoo is not releasing the exact date of Bao Bao's departure.  But the National Zoo explained Bao Bao will live at one of the bases operated by the China Conservation and Research Center for the giant panda.