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Giant Panda Trio Return to China From U.S.

Giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their male cub, Xiao Qi Ji, arrived at the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Thursday night, after wrapping up their stay in the United States.

The FedEx Express Boeing 777 Freighter with a massive giant panda picture painted outside the cockpit landed at the airport at 11:12 p.m. Thursday, greeted by giant panda keepers from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.

After an on-site inspection by customs staff at the airport, the pandas were heading to the quarantine facility at the Shenshuping giant panda base in Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan, about 130 km away from Chengdu.

According to the keepers, the giant pandas are in good condition after a long flight.

Meixiang, Tiantian, and Xiao Qi Ji departed Washington, D.C. on Wednesday local time. They were placed into three tailor-made crates, each weighing some 360 kg.

Three giant panda keepers from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, where the giant pandas had stayed, accompanied them on the flight. Supplies including 100 kg of bamboo, drinking water and apples were also loaded onto the plane for the pandas to consume.

Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived in the United States 23 years ago and bred four cubs there, of which Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei had already returned to China. 

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