Fans say goodbye to Bei Bei the panda, leaving National Zoo for China

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJLA/CNN) - It’s the last weekend at the National Zoo for D.C’s panda cub Bei Bei, and fans are flocking to the zoo to say farewell.

Bei Bei the panda is leaving Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to go to China. (Source: WJLA/CNN)

On Tuesday, Bei Bei will leave his birthplace, Washington, D.C., for his new home in China to take part in a breeding program.

Bei Bei was enjoying his farewell ice cake on Saturday as his adoring public took in the sight on one of his last bright fall days in Washington, D.C.

“This shirt is from Bei Bei’s first birthday,” said Danniel Warwick, who never missed a birthday. With nearby metro stops closed for planned updates, he caught Metro’s free shuttle bus to the zoo.

“We’ve been to a couple of big zoos - Bronx, Roger Williams - but they don’t have the giant pandas, and Bei Bei was something the girls really wanted to see,” said Dan Cocchiola, whose family came from Connecticut to catch Bei Bei before he leaves.

The newlywed Kirchners came from Richmond, Va.

“We started coming here when we first started dating, and the pandas really brought us together,” Betty Kirchner said.

“Well, I wasn’t a panda fan until I met Betty, and then from all of the pandas, we’ve been coming here all these years ‚and I’m sorry to see this one go,” Fred Kirchner said.

Bei Bei is their favorite, a 240-pound black-and-white cupid they’ve visited multiple times a year.

“I wish that he could stay because he’s such a magical panda. He’s so funny,” Betty Kirchner said.

The zoo is allowing fans to write letters to Bei Bei on postcards, which will be mailed to his handlers in China.

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