Some are taking panda Tai Shan's farewell harder than others. Tai Shan, who is being sent to China as part of a long-standing agreement, gained some diehard followers during his four years at the National Zoo, the Washington Post reported.
The panda's fans described him as providing comfort, with some spending as much as eight hours a day at the zoo on weekends. It was his "extra-large, sparkly eyes" that captivated many of his adorers.
"It's the connection with the way his eyes, you look at his eyes, and you see all this possibility," Frances Nguyen, of Gaithersburg, Md., said.
"He looks at you with those big eyes, and it's almost like he looks very deeply into your soul," Judy Young, of Alexandria, Va., said. "Tai sparkles with joy, he brings out that inner essence in you that you're sometimes not aware of."
For Mara Struck of Burke, Va., Tai Shan's presence helped her get through her father's death.
"I'm not even sure how I'm gonna handle this yet," Struck said.
WATCH Tai Shan's fans describe their connection with him: