By Rebecca Blatt
The Smithsonian Institution says a popular young giant panda will leave Washington's National Zoo on February 4th for China. Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough says Tai Shan will travel by FedEx to China along with a 3-year-old female panda from Zoo Atlanta.
The National Zoo had announced in December that Tai Shan would be sent to China for breeding. He has been one of the biggest attractions at the zoo since his birth in 2005 -- but he is property of China. China loans pandas to zoos - in Atlanta, Washington, San Diego and Memphis, Tenn. Tai Shan's parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are on a 10-year, $10 million loan that expires in December.
The last full day for visitors to see Tai Shan will be February 3rd, but the National Zoo will host a goodbye party Saturday.