'Rock Star' Pandas Get Giant Send-Off

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It was an all-out media frenzy in Washington, D.C. as people said goodbye to two popular pandas.

The cubs named Tai Shan and Mei Lan were sent back to their native China on Thursday.

It was a major production as handlers transported the cubs in a motorcade. FedEx even got in on the action with a specially equipped plane some were calling the "Panda Express."

The delivery company provided special vehicles and a cargo jet with painted pandas on the side.

"From the motorcade that we had from the zoo coming here, we can conclude that Tai Shan is really a rock star... the giant panda of the United States," Steve Monfort, acting director of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. said Thursday.

Pandas living in the U.S., even those born here, remain Chinese property and must be returned.

"He is a tangible, and furry, manifestation of cooperation between the United States and China," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said of Tai Shan.

Xie Feng, minister of the Chinese Embassy, said Tai Shan "has grown up with the blessing, love and care of the American people."

"He has now grown into a handsome young man, and it's time for him to go home," he said.

The Chinese have already begun preparing for the newcomers who will participate in a special breeding program.

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