Japan bids farewell to pandas sent to reserve in China

Japanese panda fans bid teary farewells to their idols Xiang Xiang, “super papa” Eimei and his twin daughters who were sent to China on Tuesday to swap their home at the zoo for a protected facility in Sichuan province.

Hundreds of people who waited outside Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo took photos, wiped tears with handkerchiefs and waved at a white truck carrying Xiang Xiang as it slowly drove past them on its way to the airport.

Others trooped to Narita International Airport to wave their last goodbyes as a plane carrying Xiang Xiang took off.

The last public viewing of Xiang Xiang on Sunday was limited to 2,600 lucky ones who won their tickets in an extremely competitive lottery of more than half a million applicants.

Xiang Xiang was escorted by two zoo staff on the flight to Chengdu.

She was in good health and relaxed during her departure proceedings at the airport, where she ate her favorite snacks of bamboo shoots and apples, the Ueno Zoo tweeted.

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