Tai Shan, the famous panda born at the Washington National Zoo in 2005 is leaving for China on February 4. The four year old panda will be participating in a breeding program in China.
By Jacqueline E. Trescott and Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 26, 2010; B03
After four years, six months and four weeks as the National Zoo’s reigning prince of bears, Tai Shan, Washington’s beloved giant panda, will leave the place of his birth Feb. 4, Smithsonian Institution officials said Monday.
Nine weeks after the zoo announced that Tai Shan would be heading to China to enter a breeding program, according to a prior agreement with that country, officials have worked out the complex details of his departure, route and exact destination.
Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, calling the news “bittersweet,” said Tai Shan will travel on a FedEx flight and be accompanied by a panda from a zoo in Atlanta. The nonstop flight is scheduled to depart from Dulles International Airport early in the morning. An Atlanta zoo spokeswoman said that its panda is a 3-year-old female named Mei Lan.
A huge goodbye bash for Tai Shan is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the zoo. Veterinarians, nutritionists and reproductive scientists will talk about the care of Tai Shan and his parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Partygoers will be able to write panda “memory cards,” examine the route Tai Shan will take to China and view a photo showcase of his life since he was born at the zoo four years ago. About 1:30 p.m., zoo officials will give Tai Shan a celebratory treat in his yard.
The zoo announced Dec. 4 that the now-adolescent Tai Shan would be heading to China as part of the agreement that brought his parents to the National Zoo. Various permits and clearances had to be obtained. Transportation had to be arranged, and the route chosen. Tai’s destination will be a large panda preserve in Ya’an, Sichuan province, in south-central China.
It seems like just yesterday when it was announced that Tai Shan was born. The name Tai Shan means peaceful mountain and the name was chosen through an internet poll back in 2005.