Giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their male cub Xiao Qi Ji departed the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and embarked on their way back to China on Wednesday.
In the morning, the zoo packed 220 pounds of bamboo, drinking water, and other supplies for the three giant pandas on their journey and escorted them to the Dulles International Airport.
The plane took off at around 1 p.m. local time heading for Chengdu, southwestern China, which will take about 19 hours. Two keepers and a veterinarian will accompany the giant pandas all the time.
Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have lived in the United States for 23 years. Their first three cubs Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei have returned to China. Xiao Qi Ji was born on August 21, 2020.