Giant panda Yun Zi prepares to leave San Diego Zoo for China

Yun Zi, a giant panda born four years ago at the San Diego Zoo, was crated up Saturday in preparation for its flight to China, where it will live from now on.

Zoo's pandas on loan from the Chinese government

Yun Zi has started to familiarize himself with his new home after returning to China from the U.S. on Saturday 1:27

A giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo is being sent to China.

The zoo says Yun Zi was crated up and driven to Los Angeles on Thursday in preparation for the flight. His keeper and a veterinarian will accompany him.

The zoo's pandas are on loan from the Chinese government, which decides where zoo-born offspring go after they turn three. Yun Zi turned four in August.

The zoo prepared Yun Zi for the trip by making the special bread the panda will eat in China instead of the kibble used in San Diego. The animal has also been fattened up to deal with the cooler temperatures of the mountains where it'll be living in China.

China is trying to breed and preserve the pandas. Only about 1,600 are believed to remain in the wild.