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

Ruth Rendell Dies, Pioneered The Psychological Thriller

The British mystery writer was known for her Inspector Wexford series and in her later years became active in Labour Party politics. NPR's Petra Mayer has this remembrance.
NPR

'Bourbon Empire' Reveals The Smoke And Mirrors Of American Whiskey

A new book suggests that tall tales on craft bourbon labels are the rule rather than the exception. They're just one example of a slew of "carefully cultivated myths" created by the bourbon industry.
NPR

Site Using Candidate Carly Fiorina's Name Attacks Her Record At HP

The site, carlyfiorina.org, says the Republican presidential candidate laid off 30,000 people while she ran Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina does not deny the figure but says, overall, the firm created jobs.
NPR

People's Republic Of Uber: Making Friends, Chauffeuring People In China

Uber is becoming more popular in China, but many drivers say they don't do it for the money. They say they like the human connection and the freedom.

Leave a Comment

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