The New Yorker – I went to the National Zoo last week to say goodbye to Bei Bei. For four years, the charismatic panda cub has regaled Washington at morning appearances—somersaulting down his yard, splashing in a tub, foraging in a hide-and-seek game to find toys filled with fruit. Bei Bei is the seeming Winnie-the-Pooh of pandas—curious, engaging, playful, and ever in search of something sweet. “He’s a classic rough-and-tumble little boy,” “He’s a little tank.”

On Tuesday, Bei Bei was packed in a crate for a sixteen-hour flight, aboard FedEx’s Panda Express (with Bei Bei’s face plastered across the Boeing 777), bound for China. He’s leaving the zoo forever. Bei Bei’s departure is wrenching for many in this politically embattled city. The zoo has long been one of Washington’s few (and free) apolitical refuges, rivalled only by the fleeting cherry blossoms…

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