updated 11/18/2009 6:32:18 PM ET 2009-11-18T23:32:18

A 2-year-old panda who charmed his way into the hearts of Austrians is headed to China.

Fu Long has been the star attraction at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo since he was born there on Aug. 23, 2007.

Artificial insemination is common practice when breeding captive pandas but Fu Long was conceived naturally.

His parents were sent on loan from China with the understanding that their offspring would be sent to their homeland.

Zoo officials say Fu Long left Austria Wednesday for the Bifengxia panda base about 90 miles from Chengdu.

His departure has been hyped in Austrian media for days. Last week, the respected newspaper "Der Standard" ran a headline saying "So Long, Fu Long."

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