Today marks the departure of the beloved giant pandas from the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., signifying the end of an era in panda diplomacy after 50 years. This event was kept secret until now. The pandas are leaving for China on a plane, leaving behind brokenhearted Americans and ending a program that started in 1972. Despite tensions between the US and China, the zoo director denies any influence on the pandas' return. The departure includes the last three pandas, including a pandemic-born cub conceived through artificial insemination. Despite speculations, it's clarified that the cooling relations between the US and China are not the reason behind this return. The director emphasizes that the pandas' return aligns with the pre-planned agreement.
• Crate: a sturdy container used for storage or transporting things.
• Heading to: moving or traveling towards a specific destination or location.
• Mating: the process of animals coming together to engage in sexual reproduction.
• Sneak peek: a quick and secret look.
• To prompt: to encourage someone to take a particular action.
Source: CBS Mornings Youtube channel.