1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Farewell Fu Bao: South Korea says goodbye to giant panda

March 3, 2024

The crowd-pulling panda will return to China as part of Beijing's "panda diplomacy" under which animals are leased as goodwill gestures. Fu Bao became a favorite as she was born in South Korea to loaned animals.

Giant panda Fu Bao eats bamboo at Everland amusement park in Yongin, South Korea. March 3, 2024.
Fu Bao, a female giant panda, will be transferred to the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan ProvinceImage: Chung Sung-Jun/AP Photo/picture alliance

A South Korean theme park in Yongin near Seoul on Sunday threw a farewell bash for one of its most famous residents, Fu Bao, the giant Panda.

Fu Bao — meaning "lucky treasure" — was the first giant panda to be born in South Korea in 2020 and has drawn countless visitors to the Everland theme park.

The much-loved Fu Bao, who turns four this year, will be transferred to the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan Province next month, after spending a month in quarantine.

Sunday was her last day on show to visitors prior to the quarantine.

Visitors taking photos of Fu Bao.
March 3 was Fubao's last day on public show, ahead of a quarantine period before her return to China, set for early AprilImage: Yonhap/picture alliance

Farewell Fu Bao

Thousands of people gathered to attend a special farewell event held for Fu Bao, with many saying how much they would miss her.

Fu Bao will be heading to China as part of an international agreement under which pandas that are loaned or have been born abroad must be returned after a period of time.

Zookeeper Kang Cher-won — who has cared for Fu Bao since birth — said the panda had given him love and taught him about the species that was downgraded from "endangered" to "vulnerable" in 2016.

"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."

Fu Bao pictured taking a rest at Everland amusement park
Fu Bao was born in July 2020 and will return to China under Beijing's 'panda diplomacy' programImage: Chung Sung-Jun/AP Photo/picture alliance

China's goodwill ambassadors

China's "panda diplomacy" has seen animals leased to countries around the world over the years as goodwill animal ambassadors since the 1950s.

The cub's parents — 10-year-old female Ai Bao and 11-year-old male Le Bao — arrived in 2016 from Sichuan province as part of the scheme.

A child looks at art works about giant panda Fu Bao's family at Everland theme park
Artwork themed on Fu Bao and her parents is also on display at the Everland theme parkImage: Yao Qilin/Xinhua/picture alliance

Last July, Ai Bao gave birth to twins at the Everland theme park.

Berlin Zoo is home to Germany's only pandas — Meng Meng, Jiao Qing and their cubs Meng Xiang, nicknamed Pit and Meng Yuan, nicknamed Paule — who were born there in the summer of 2019.

The Panda Garden, housing the family, was officially opened by then Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017.

kb/msh (Reuters, AP)