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Tai Shan Arrives Safely in China

Not only did Tai Shan arrive safe and well—he was also “well-fed” during the trip, according to the Washington DC Zoo veterinarian and keeper who traveled with him. It was reported that he traveled exceptionally well, eating bamboo and fruit during most of the 15 hour trip. Nicole, the keeper who accompanied Tai Shan, called him a “rock star” as he was welcomed by more than 100 people at 9 p.m. at his new home at the Panda Bifengxi Base outside of Chengdu.

Tai Shan also did have stellar transportation, with a Fed Ex 777 plane, also known as the “Panda Express”, which departed Dulles International Airport on February 5th. The flight went smoothly and followed a going away party for Tai Shan the previous weekend at the DC Zoo. The four year old panda cub was conceived there and has been closely monitored by Washington DC zookeepers since inception. You can view photos of Tai Shan from his second day of life to his departure date at: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/TaiShan/default.cfm

Tai Shan was born in December 2005 and has delighted millions of visitors to the Zoo. He and his parents, Tian Tian and Mei Xian have been watched by millions fans around the world via the “panda cam”, a 24 hour camera that millions of fans around the world have tuned in to watch the pandas. The two adult pandas have been under a ten year loan agreement to the US government.

Under the agreement, giant panda cubs born at the National Zoo belong to China and are to be sent to Woolong’s Beifengxia Base in Ya’an, Sichuan, sometime after the cub turns two. In April 2007, shortly before his second birthday, China granted the National Zoo, a two year extension and allowed Tai Shan to remain in the US. That extension expired in July and the Zoo was allowed a second extension, which expired in January 2010.

Tai Shan was trained to enter and calmly remain in a specially designed crate for his flight to China. It is anticipated that Tai Shan will enter the breeding program in China, where he will contribute to species conservation. There are only an estimated 1600 giant pandas in the wild.

Acting National Zoo Director, Steve Monfort, said, “Tai Shan leaving Washington is terribly sad for the Zoo, the community and his fans around the world. He has become so special to the staff and the public – and we have learned so much from him just four short years. By providing a two-year extension, our Chinese partner, the China Wildlife Conservation Association, allowed us the chance to learn more about giant pandas by charting his growth and development. It’s hard to say goodbye, but we are so thankful for the many memories and huge opportunities Tai has provided to the National Zoo.”

Tao Shan’s parents, Mei Xian and Tian Tian also belong to China. They remain on loan to the Washington DC National Zoo as part of a research conservation and breeding program. That agreement is scheduled to expire in December 2010. You can view the “panda cam” and review additional information about the panda family on this page: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/default.cfm?cam=LP2

Source: Washington DC National Zoo

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