The Memphis Zoo in Memphis, the U.S. state of Tennessee, held a farewell event for female giant panda Ya Ya on Saturday.
Hundreds of people reportedly attended the sendoff at the CHINA exhibit, where they said goodbye to Ya Ya, signed letters, and watched cultural performances.
"If you can't make it to the party, there's still time," the Memphis Zoo wrote in an Instagram post earlier this week. "Ya Ya will be here until the end of the month."
"I am so sad to see Ya Ya go. I knew it would happen eventually, but one is never prepared for such eventualities," an online comment said. "Goodbye sweet princess."
Ya Ya came to the Memphis Zoo in 2003 with male giant panda Le Le under a partnership between the zoo, located in Midtown, Memphis, and the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG).
The Memphis Zoo announced in December 2022 that the giant panda loan agreement with the CAZG will end in 2023.
Unfortunately, Le Le died in February ahead of the pair's scheduled return to China. The death was caused by heart disease, according to an autopsy by Chinese and American experts.
The Memphis Zoo previously responded to concerns surrounding Ya Ya, which was born in China on Aug. 3, 2000.
"Regarding her stature, people have noted that she is a very small bear," the Memphis Zoo wrote in a release in February, saying that "phenotypically speaking, this does not stem from her nutrition, but her familial genetics."
"Ya Ya also lives with a chronic skin and fur condition which is inherently related to her immune system and directly impacted by hormonal fluctuations," the release read.
"This condition does not affect her quality of life but does occasionally make her hair look thin and patchy," it continued. "The condition is closely monitored by our animal care team and veterinary staff."