Panda express: Bao Bao on nonstop flight to China

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2015, file photo, panda cub Bao Bao, roams in an enclosure at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington. Bao Bao is scheduled to depart the zoo Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 for a one-way flight to China, where the 3-year-old will eventually join a panda breeding program. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Zoo in Washington has said its final goodbye to its panda cub Bao Bao.

The zoo packed up the American-born panda Tuesday for a one-way flight to Chengdu, China, where the 3-year-old will eventually join a panda breeding program.

Bao Bao left the zoo Tuesday morning in a special crate and began her 16-hour flight to China on Tuesday afternoon from Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

The cub won’t have to worry about finding overhead bin space or dealing with a talkative seatmate on the 16-hour, nonstop flight. She’ll be the only panda on the plane, traveling with a keeper and a veterinarian.

In preparation for the trip, keepers have packed Bao Bao’s favorite foods, including bamboo, apples and sweet potatoes.