National Zoo's Panda Cub Heads to China

Washington's Tai Shan and Atlanta's Mei Lan moving to China to breed
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2010 8:10 AM CST
National Zoo's Panda Cub Heads to China
In this photograph provided by the National Zoo, Tai Shan, the National Zoos giant panda cub, plays in a tree at his home at the zoo in this June 9, 2006 file photo.   (AP Photo/Smithsonian Institution, Ann Batdorf, File)

(Newser) – Washington will bid its favorite panda adieu on Feb. 4, when Tai Shan leaves for China to breed, accompanied by Zoo Atlanta's Mei Lan. “It's like sending off your own child to college,” Tai Shan's fan club founder tells the Post, adding that fan club members have raised $10,000 to “adopt” Tai Shan, born at the National Zoo four years ago, and in return, “They'll send us updates and photographs.” His farewell party is Saturday, with Feb. 3 his last day on view at the zoo.

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Tai Shan and his parents are still owned by China; his original departure was to have been two years ago—but it was twice extended. He will live on a panda preserve, where conservationists hope he will help expand the endangered population of giant pandas. His parents’ stay at the zoo is set to end this year, and zoo experts are trying their best for another panda baby before they leave—the animals are notoriously difficult to breed.
(Read more Tai Shan stories.)

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