South Koreans bid emotional farewell to beloved panda Fu Bao

South Koreans bid emotional farewell to beloved panda Fu BaoSouth Koreans bid emotional farewell to beloved panda Fu Bao
via Yonhapnews, SBS TV
South Korean zoo staffers and fans alike were emotional as they bid farewell to Fu Bao, the first panda cub born in South Korea through natural breeding, as the female panda departed for China.
Key points:
  • Everland, a theme park in Yongin Gyeonggi Province, held a special 20-minute farewell event for Fu Bao at Panda World on Wednesday.
  • Pandas and their offspring, loaned by China, are considered the property of China according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. As part of the agreement, the offspring must be returned to China before they turn four years old.

The details:
  • Approximately 6,000 fans attended the event, where they bid farewell to Fu Bao while zoo staffers paraded the female panda around the park in a vibration-free truck.
  • Zookeeper Kang Cheol-won, known to many fans as Fu Bao’s “grandpa” for caring for the panda since her birth, read an emotional letter at the event.
  • “The day has come for you to leave,” Kang, whose mother died the day before, said. “Fu Bao, you gave hope and bliss to many people since the moment you were born. It’s now time for you to go on a long trip to begin your new life.”
  • Kang, Song Young-gwan – another caretaker of Fu Bao – and fans were seen weeping during the farewell event.
  • Kang and a veterinarian from China accompanied Fu Bao on her journey to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan Province via a chartered flight to ensure her safety in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Fu Bao was born on July 20, 2020. Her parents were Ai Bao and Le Bao, the two pandas China loaned to South Korea in March 2016 as part of its panda diplomacy effort. Ai Bao and Le Bao’s twin cubs, Hui Bao and Lui Bao, who were born in 2023, are still in Panda World with their parents.

How people reacted:
  • Some fans were also saddened by Fu Bao’s return to China, while others tried to find the reason for the female panda’s appeal to many. One X user wrote in their post, “During the time when Fu Bao was born, it was the era of COVID-19, and at that time, depression was prevalent. Since people couldn’t go outside, they found comfort in watching Fu Bao on TV.”
  • Another user pointed out the same sentiment, adding, “her beauty also played a role.”
  • “Farewell, Fu Bao. I wish you health and happiness,” one user wrote. “After the pandas currently at Everland, never engage in ‘panda diplomacy’ again.”
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