DC Bids Bye Bye to Bao Bao

Story and photos by angela n.

Washingtonians have loved watching Bao Bao grow up. She was just six weeks old when the 2013 government shutdown darkened the National Zoo panda cam. Some federal workers suddenly had lots of free time, but sadly no panda cub video stream to fill those hours. When the shutdown ended, the Today Show reported, “Our 16-day national nightmare is over: The panda cam is back.” Within ten minutes, the panda cam reached its maximum viewing capacity, according to the New Yorker.

In 2014, Bao Bao was voted the most popular item in the Smithsonian collections, beating the Star Spangled Banner flag.  Bao Bao even inspired a Vox think piece supporting birthright citizenship for pandas.

But alas, on February 21, our beloved panda princess will leave us for a breeding facility in China. Last Saturday, the National Zoo threw a farewell party. Her many fans wore panda-themed attire and watched her chomp American bamboo one last time.

All images © angela n.

Mei Xiang and four-month-old Bao Bao at her public debut, January 2014