Beloved Panda Tai Shan Leaves National Zoo | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

Filed Under:

Beloved Panda Tai Shan Leaves National Zoo

Play associated audio
Tai Shan in custom-made crate getting ready for his move to
Chengdu, China.
Kavitha Cardoza
Tai Shan in custom-made crate getting ready for his move to Chengdu, China.

By Kavitha Cardoza

Tai Shan, the National Zoo's beloved giant panda, is en route to Chengdu, China. But in the Washington Metro area he leaves behind broken hearts.

Panda keepers with red rimmed eyes flanked the white custom made travel crate, carrying Tai Shan inside. The four-year-old was loaded with military precision into a waiting tractor trailer and taken to the airport.

"He's kind of our rock star," says Dr Erica Bauer, curator at the National Zoo.

Pandas are an endangered species and Tai Shan will be taken to a breeding program, under an agreement with the Chinese government. Bauer says this is necessary to conserve his species.

"There is no opportunity to breed him here," says Bauer. "He cant experience his life fully and get into the mating scene if he's at the National Zoo. So it's very important he meets other animals. He's gonna meet lots of girls!"

Zhu Hua, a journalist with China Central TV, says Tai Shan can anticipate the same level of adoration overseas. Hua says his American keepers laid to rest some fears that Tai Shan might face a language barrier, since he's accustomed to only hearing English.

"But they told me Tai Shan is smart. And they also help him to understand what they want to communicate by gestures," she says. "And they will show these gestures to the Chinese keepers. So there wont be any problem!"

But for many, the love he'll receive halfway across the world in his new home won't make up for his loss in D.C. As one woman put it, "there are pandas and there are pandas and then there's Tai Shan."

NPR

From 'Dragon Tattoo' To The 'Spider's Web': Stieg Larsson's Heroine Returns

The late Stieg Larsson's Millennium series of novels is getting an addition, The Girl in the Spider's Web. The book, written by David Lagercrantz, just got its title and a U.S. release date: Sept. 1.
NPR

Our Food-Safety System Is A Patchwork With Big Holes, Critics Say

More than a dozen federal agencies play a part in keeping food from making Americans sick. Critics say the system has gaps, and we'd all be safer if federal food safety efforts were under one roof.
NPR

Alabama Judge Says Raising Money To Be Elected Is 'Tawdry'

Mixing judges with campaign contributions can lead to conflicts of interest. Fresh Air talks to retired Judge Sue Bell Cobb and the Center for American Progress' Billy Corriher.
NPR

If Drones Make You Nervous, Think Of Them As Flying Donkeys

In Africa, where there aren't always roads from point A to point B, drones could take critical medicines to remote spots. But the airborne vehicles make people uneasy for lots of reasons.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.