Panda Spotlight - Tai Shan / Post by Pandas International
Tai Shan was born on July 9, 2005 at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC. His mother, Mei Xiang, was artificially inseminated after she an his father, Tian Tian, failed to mate naturally. Since his birth, he has become, perhaps, the most well known panda in the world.
The tiny cub’s birth was highly celebrated and he became an instant media sensation. Popularly reffered to as “Butterstick, becuase immediatley after his birth a zoo worker described him as being about the size of a stick of butter, the little cub was not named (following Chinese tradition) until he was 100 days old. The name Tai Shan was chosen through an internet poll and means “Peaceful Mountain”.
Tai Shan made his public debut on December 8, 2005. The 13,000 tickets issued by the National Zoo were gone within 2 hours. The little cubs popularity continued to grow exponentially once he was on public display. Media outlets featured him frequently, bloggers could not get enough of him, and fans set up sites selling cub-related merchandise. The Panda cub was also featured in an Animal Planet documentary titled A Panda Is Born, which follows the National Zoo’s giant panda breeding efforts and Tai Shan’s birth. A few months after Tai Shan’s first birthday, Animal Planet premiered a second documentary titled Baby Panda’s First Year, which followed him during his first 12 months at the National Zoo. Each year his birthday is a highly publicized and celebrated day.
Tai Shan spent the first four and a half years of his life at the National Zoo, winning the hearts of thousands of adoring fans. In December, 2009, the zoo announced that Tai Shan would leave the zoo and be returned to China, in accordance with previous agreements. Like his parents, Tai Shan is the property of China and was on loan to the US. Zoo officials had asked for another “passport” for Tai Shan to remain in Washington for another year, but China declined the request. According to the original agreement, Tai Shan was to return to China two years after he was born and China had already allowed him to stay for an additional two and a half years beyond the initial agreement. He left D.C. for China on February 4, 2010
Upon return to China, Tai Shan’s new home became the Bifengxia Panda Base. While he has been out of the sights of many of his adoring fans, he is never far from their hearts and many have made the trip to China to see him once more.