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

How To Sell Diverse Books: A Bookstore Owner's Advice

It's not news that the publishing world isn't very diverse. But over on the other side of the industry, how do owners of neighborhood bookstores try to sell books for or about people of color?
NPR

Can Quinoa Take Root On The 'Roof Of The World'?

Quinoa, once a homebody crop, crossed the Atlantic for the first time this century. Now the Food and Agriculture Organization has a hunch it can thrive in Central and Southwest Asia.
NPR

Senate Control May Swing On North Carolina's Unpopularity Contest

Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan wants voters to punish her GOP challenger Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House, for unpopular laws. Tillis wants to aim anger toward the president at Hagan.
NPR

Islamic State Uses Online Strategies To Get Its Message Out

Experts say the videotaped killing of journalist James Foley is part of a broader propaganda strategy by Islamist militants. The group, the Islamic State, has become a master of the video medium.

Leave a Comment

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