(BUSINESS WIRE)--FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and the world’s largest express transportation company, is donating its logistical services to transport two giant pandas from the United States to China on February 4, 2010. Working in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and Zoo Atlanta, FedEx Express will fly the pandas non-stop from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Chengdu, China.
“FedEx is uniquely qualified to make this special delivery given our long history connecting the U.S. to China and our extensive global experience in shipping precious cargo, from packages to pandas”
Tai Shan, a 4-and-a-half-year-old male panda born at the National Zoo, and Mei Lan, a 3-year-old female panda born at Zoo Atlanta, will travel onboard a custom-decaled FedEx Express 777 Freighter (777F) – known as the “FedEx Panda Express.”
“FedEx is uniquely qualified to make this special delivery given our long history connecting the U.S. to China and our extensive global experience in shipping precious cargo, from packages to pandas,” said David J. Bronczek, president and CEO, FedEx Express. “It is a privilege to serve as the trusted carrier of these rare pandas, and we are proud to support the preservation efforts of this endangered species.”
Currently, conservationists estimate that only 1,600 pandas remain in the wild. Both Tai Shan and Mei Lan are part of global, giant panda conservation programs.
FedEx Express will fly Mei Lan from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., where she will join Tai Shan in preparation for the trans-Atlantic flight. Onboard the 777F aircraft – which is solely dedicated to the pandas’ journey – Tai Shan and Mei Lan will travel in two custom-built transport containers provided by FedEx Express. The pandas will depart Washington, D.C. late morning on February 4 and arrive in Chengdu late afternoon on February 5, approximately 14 ½ hours between take-off and landing.
The pandas’ flight will be shorter than ever before possible as a result of the fuel-efficient 777F aircraft, the world’s largest twin-engine cargo aircraft and the newest addition to the FedEx global fleet. In early January 2010, FedEx launched the 777F into international service with a direct connection from Shanghai to the U.S.
In addition to donating all the necessary air transportation, FedEx Express is also providing ground and logistical support in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. In both cities, caravans of FedEx vehicles will deliver the pandas to the airport. Local law enforcement will be on hand to ensure a smooth ride for the pandas. FedEx pilots and drivers selected to transport the pandas are some of the company’s most seasoned team members.
FedEx Express, the National Zoo, Zoo Atlanta and the China organizers in Chengdu have worked collaboratively to ensure all necessary precautions have been taken to provide a safe and comfortable flight for the pandas. Animal care experts from both zoos have been granted special flight privileges to accompany the pandas onboard the aircraft.
Upon arriving in Chengdu, Tai Shan will be received by the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens will take delivery of Mei Lan. Tai Shan will reside at the China Conservation and Research Center’s Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China and Mei Lan will reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Due to security regulations, the departure and arrival events for both pandas will be closed to the general public. However, FedEx will provide updates about the pandas’ journey online at news.fedex.com/pandas.
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