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4-Year-Old Panda Leaves Zoo for China

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Hua Mei, a 4-year-old giant panda, has left the San Diego Zoo for the Wolong Nature Reserve in China, officials announced Wednesday.

The panda was slated to depart for China two years ago, but the trip was delayed by bad weather and then the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

Although she was born at the San Diego Zoo, the female panda belongs to the Chinese government through an arrangement under which China agreed to lend two adult pandas to the zoo for research.

A veterinarian and panda keeper from San Diego are accompanying Hua Mei, along with an official delegation from China.

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