FedEx Express has transported three giant pandas on a charter flight between Washington, D.C., in the United States and Chengdu in China.
The pandas — 25-year-old Mei Xiang, 26-year-old Tian Tian, and their three-year-old cub, Xiao Qi Ji, arrived in Chengdu on November 9.
FedEx said it worked with the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, and the pandas travelled via a FedEx Express Boeing 777F, dubbed the "FedEx Panda Express."
FedEx noted that it has long worked with the Chinese authorities and zoos around the world to safely ship giant pandas to and from China — and has donated the cost of transporting the pandas as part of its ongoing corporate social responsibility and environmental conservation efforts.
On the journey, the pandas were accompanied by animal care experts from the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and travelled in custom-built transport enclosures provided by FedEx.
The pandas were the only cargo on the trans-Pacific flight from Washington's Dulles International Airport to China's Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, aside from supplies such as bamboo, water, and their favourite treats, including sugar cane, apples, and pears.
"We are deeply honoured to again serve as the transportation provider of giant pandas. The safe delivery of Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Xiao Qi Ji is a testament to the company's commitment and ability to securely ship precious cargo," said Richard Smith, president and chief executive officer of Airline and International, FedEx.
"We are proud to be entrusted with transporting these beloved animals through our global integrated air and ground network."
Before the trip, the pandas spent time getting familiar with their crates to ensure a safe and comfortable flight. Upon arrival in Chengdu, Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Xiao Qi Ji were greeted on the tarmac by their new keepers before moving to the Shenshuping facility in Wolong, where they will quarantine for approximately 30 days.
"It marks the tenth FedEx successful delivery of giant pandas since 2000," said Eddy Chan, senior vice president of FedEx Express and president of FedEx China.
FedEx said it also provided trucking and logistical support in Washington, DC, to safely transport the pandas from the Smithsonian's National Zoo to the airport.
Including this move, FedEx has had the privilege of transporting 15 different pandas on 10 separate flights over the past two decades.