#ByeByeBaoBao was the most adorable Twitter hashtag on Tuesday, as Bao Bao the giant panda left the U.S. to start her new life in China. The beloved panda is en route to Chengdu, where she'll work to save her species by reproducing. The public response to her departure shows that Bao Bao will be missed, but she also taught the American people a few (super cute) life lessons that they won't soon forget.
Bao Bao was born at the National Zoo on August 23, 2013, as part of the global effort to save the giant panda from extinction. There are currently fewer than 2,000 giant pandas left worldwide, and Bao Bao is now returning to China to continue the repopulation project. According to the Smithsonian website (the National Zoo is part of the larger Smithsonian organization), "all [panda] cubs born at the Zoo move to China before turning 4 years old to breed with other pandas, helping to keep the population genetically diverse."
Pandas were one of the first diplomatic tools to ease the relationship between the U.S. and China, and they have a special place in a lot of people's hearts since they're so rare (plus, they're pretty cute). People have watched her closely and fondly over the last three and a half years, and as the country says goodbye, everyone can reflect on what Bao Bao taught people over the years.