SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — It's the final countdown for the San Diego Zoo's remaining panda bears.
The zoo has launched a three-week farewell celebration for 27-year-old giant panda Bai Yun and her son, 6-year-old Xiao Liwu, before the two are repatriated to China this spring.
A goodbye event held Saturday with zoo officials and Chinese Consul General Zhang Ping commemorated the end of the zoo's panda research program.
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The zoo announced the program would end after more than two decades in partnership with China. No specific reason was given as to what led to the end of the partnership.
The final day to see Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu will be April 29.
San Diego Zoo Global Chief Operating Officer Shawn Dixon said at the time, “although we are sad to see these pandas go, we have great hopes for the future. Working with our colleagues in China, San Diego Zoo Global is ready to make a commitment for the next stage of our panda program.”
Zoo visitors can see the pandas at their habitat leading up to their departure, and the park will be selling special commemorative bells and offering free tags to hang on the Giant Panda Friendship Wall.
How you can see the giant pandas
The San Diego Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
One-day passes for adults cost $56 and $46 for children ages 3-11. Multi-day visit passes are also available, starting at $89.60 for adults and $79.60 for children ages 3-11.
Once inside the zoo, head over to Panda Canyon. To do so, hang a right on "Front Street" after entering the park and head toward Bieler Plaza. Take a left a the plaza and follow the road down to the panda exhibit. Or take the skytram over the exhibit, and double back over Bashor Bridge. A stairwell at the end of the bridge will lead to Panda Canyon below. Here's a handy PDF map of the zoo to check out before heading over.
Morning panada tours are also offered for two hours daily, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The tours start before the zoo opens, so guests can check out Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu enjoying breakfast and learn about them while up close. Tours start at $149. More information and tickets are available here.
If you can't make it down to the zoo, the park has a giant panda camera feed running online daily.
(The article has been updated to reflect the zoo's announcement to extend the panda exhibit by two days until April 29.)