Giant panda Bao Bao will leave the National Zoo in Washington, DC next week and move to China under a breeding agreement and officials at the Smithsonian National Zoo are preparing her for the long journey.
Thompson said that any cubs that are born in the zoo will be going to China by the time they are four years old.
Bao Bao won't turn 4 until August, but the zoo has said it's better for pandas to travel in the winter months when it's cool.
Bao Bao will be shipped in a large crate via FedEx, and have at least 50 pounds of bamboo to eat along the way. Bao Bao celebrated her third birthday as part of a triple panda birthday party this past summer.
There are an estimated 1,800 giant pandas in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which classes them as "vulnerable".
Bao Bao will soon do her part, entering a breeding program in Chengdu when she reaches the age of 5 or 6.
Kate Masters, who came to bid farewell to Bao Bao with her six-year-old daughter Genevieve, said it is definitely a loss for the Zoo, nevertheless, she felt exciting for Bao Bao. "So, that's what we're doing for Bao Bao".
The National Zoo received its first pair of giant pandas in 1972 as a gift from the Chinese government to commemorate President Richard Nixon's landmark visit to China, the zoo said on its website.
"China and the United States collaborate closely in scientific research about and conservation of giant pandas".
Zoo officials also have a host of other events planned leading up to the big departure day.
The festivities culminate on Tuesday when Bao Bao departs Washington. Both events will be broadcast on Facebook Live.