It’s panda-monium as South Korea says goodbye to Fu Bao: Crowds of sobbing fans gather for one last glimpse at the gentle giant as she is returned to China

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Fu Bao, born in July 2020, was the first giant panda to be born in South Korea
  • Around 5.5million people have visited Fu Bao in Yongin since January 2021
  • The panda will be relocated to the China Conservation and Research Centre

Beloved panda Fu Bao left South Korea for China on Wednesday as crowds of sobbing fans gathered to catch one last glimpse of the gentle giant before her journey.

Emotional images of the event show thousands of panda lovers gathered at Everland, the country’s largest theme park in Yongin, to say farewell to Fu Bao – the first giant panda born in South Korea.

The crowds of around 6,000, according to local reports, braved heavy rainfall as they stood under a colourful sea of umbrellas, with some even holding up posters and balloons dedicated to the animal celebrity.

Although the fans were large in their numbers, they paused for silence when a specially crafted green vehicle carrying the panda passed through – in an effort to not scare her by the noise.

The convoy, printed with a green jungle-like backdrop and images of Fu Bao’s head drove slowly down the bustling streets as onlookers cried, waved, and watched with sadness at the bear’s departure.

Thousands of people gathered in the streets in South Korea this morning to bid farewell to panda Fu Bao as she heads to China

Upset fans were seen holding up banners and posters dedicated to the animal celebrity

Upset fans were seen holding up banners and posters dedicated to the animal celebrity

One woman was seen leaning over a barrier, sobbing as she snapped a photo of the convoy carrying the panda

One woman was seen leaning over a barrier, sobbing as she snapped a photo of the convoy carrying the panda 

Two police vehicles escorted the lorry down the packed streets as it headed for the airport

Two police vehicles escorted the lorry down the packed streets as it headed for the airport

Fu Bao was popular among South Korean's as she was the first giant panda born in the country

Fu Bao was popular among South Korean’s as she was the first giant panda born in the country

Fans were seen sobbing as the panda left the area, after having not seen her since March 3

Fans were seen sobbing as the panda left the area, after having not seen her since March 3

A message painted onto the side of the vehicle also read: ‘It’s a miracle to meet you. Thanks, Fu Bao’.

As the lorry made its way down the roads, it was seen being escorted by two police cars while fans trailed along behind. 

The road was decorated with flower designs and messages from fans, and Everland played photos and videos of Fu Bao on a large LED screen.

Crowds of adoring panda lovers held up banners, flowers, and homemade posters as they leaned over railings and stepped into the roads to click photos.

Some fans had been waiting from as early as 4am to catch a glimpse of the gentle giant, reported The Korea Times. 

One heartbreaking image shows a woman sobbing into the rain as she snapped an image of Fu Bao for the last time.

On the back of her phone is a panda pop-socket – a seemingly touching tribute to the beloved Fu Bao. 

Another image shows a group of frowning people holding yellow balloons with the panda’s face printed on the side.

One more displays a young woman holding up a bright pink fuzzy poster, as she stands on the corner of the sidewalk awaiting the convoy.   

Zookeepers hosted a farewell event for the fans inside the theme park after she had left the area.

Fu Bao was born in July 2020 to Le Bao and Ai Bao - a pair of giant pandas sent to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2016

Fu Bao was born in July 2020 to Le Bao and Ai Bao – a pair of giant pandas sent to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2016

People held up balloons and waved posters which had Fu Bao's face printed on them

People held up balloons and waved posters which had Fu Bao’s face printed on them 

The lorry was decorated with images of Fu Bao and a message that read: 'It's a miracle to meet you. Thanks, Fu Bao'.

The lorry was decorated with images of Fu Bao and a message that read: ‘It’s a miracle to meet you. Thanks, Fu Bao’.

Fans braved the cold, wet weather as they said their final goodbyes to the panda

Fans braved the cold, wet weather as they said their final goodbyes to the panda

South Korean zookeeper Kang Cheol-won spoke during a farewell ceremony for Fu Bao at Everland amusement park in Yongin. He said: 'You are our baby panda forever even if 10 years pass or 100 years pass'

South Korean zookeeper Kang Cheol-won spoke during a farewell ceremony for Fu Bao at Everland amusement park in Yongin. He said: ‘You are our baby panda forever even if 10 years pass or 100 years pass’

‘You are our baby panda forever even if 10 years pass or 100 years pass,’ zookeeper Kang Cheol-won said in a speech during the ceremony. 

‘Dear all, Fu Bao is now leaving. Please, remember Fu Bao for a long, long time. and please don’t cry much!’ 

The amusement park was unable to show Fu Bao to the public on Wednesday as she spent a month in quarantine to prepare for her return to China.

Fu Bao will be relocated to the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Sichuan Province.

Kang and a panda expert from China both assisted Fu Bao on her two-hour flight.

Becoming the first giant panda born in South Korea, Fu Bao was born in July 2020 to Le Bao and Ai Bao through natural breeding.

The giant panda pair were sent by Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2016 on a 15-year loan as a symbol of Korea’s and China’s friendship, reported The Korea Herald.

 Pandas sent by China to overseas countries are returned to China before they turn four in accordance with the endangered species conservation agreement.

Fu Bao has been loved by South Koreans for her adorable appearance and unique charm.

Around 5.5 million people had visited the Panda World in the Yongin park to meet the panda family since Fu Bao was made open to the public in January 2021.

Le Bao and Ai Bao also gave birth to female twin cubs, Rui Bao and Hui Bao, at Everland in July 2023.

ChinaSouth Korea

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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