South Koreans bid farewell to beloved panda Fu Bao before her return to China

March 5, 2024 11:43 am

[Source: Reuters]

A South Korean zoo on Sunday threw a farewell party for Fu Bao, the first giant panda born in the country, ahead of the beloved animal’s scheduled return to China.

Fu Bao, which means lucky treasure, has attracted a huge fan base ever since she was born in July 2020 at the Everland amusement park just south of Seoul. The panda is set to return to China’s Sichuan province next month after spending a month in quarantine.

Thousands of visitors queued up in the early morning chill to attend the farewell event, with many saying they will miss the panda once she’s gone.

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“I was mentally ill three years ago, but Fu Bao has helped me get through it and brought me a lot of comfort,” said Kim Min-ji, a 31-year-old visitor. “It’s sad to say goodbye, but we need to let her go. I wish she goes safely and will be happy.”

Jo Ah-hyeon, 24, said she waited more than four hours to see Fu Bao. “This is our last chance, you never know when we’ll see her again so I had to come,” she said.

Zoo keeper Kang Cher-won, who has been caring for Fu Bao, said the panda had given him so much love as well as teaching him a lot about the critically endangered species. Online videos, opens new tab of Kang caring for Fu Bao, and her clinging to him, are very popular in South Korea.

“Fu Bao is a friend who has played many roles,” Kang said. “She was my first panda cub, and my heart is filled with memories of her that I will never forget all my life.”