We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s officially time to say goodbye to the National Zoo’s giant pandas. Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Xiao Qi Ji will depart DC before November 15, reports the Washington Post, leaving the city without pandas for the first time in 23 years.
The iconic bears were previously slated to stay at the zoo until December 7, the end date of an extended agreement with the China Wildlife and Conservation Association. However, it appears the black-and-white bears will board the Panda Express earlier than anticipated.
Their departure marks the end of an era in Washington. Tian Tian and Mei Xiang have been fixtures at the zoo since December 2000, and Xiao Qi Ji was born at the institution in August 2020. The baby panda’s older siblings—Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei—are already back in China.