Ever since Su Lin was abandoned when she was just a panda cub, she’s been raised in captivity at the International Panda Rescue Center. Since then, she’s thrived at her new home, put on weight, and socialized with people and the other pandas, and she’s become the favorite around the refuge and beyond.

And now, after three years at the facility, Su Lin has grown strong enough to strike out on her own in the middle of the South China Sea, the tranquil, protected territory where the IPRC has been sending its rehabilitated pandas for years! It’s a beautiful stretch of open sea—quiet, remote, and without a poacher for miles.

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According to the researchers, Su Lin took to her new home right away. She jumped in and began playfully splashing. She spent more and more time under the surface until she finally didn’t come back up at all, happy and secure in her new home. The researchers bid her a tearful goodbye and left.

Way to go, Su Lin! We can only imagine a world where all pandas are safe.

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