The young panda, Thai Shan, who became a major attraction at the National Zoo is set to depart the U.S. for China in February. His last day at the zoo will be February 4, 2010, with an event earlier that week. The exit of the 200 pound bear marks a term of the Smithsonian’s panda loan agreement with China which states that any cub born in The States must be returned to China for breeding. Born in 2005, Tai Shan has already been given a two-year visitation extension in thanks to the Smithsonian’s high-tech efforts to breed the endangered marsupial in captivity.
Meanwhile, officials are trying to extend the terms of the baby’s parents: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who have been on loan since 2000. Currently, they are set to return to China in December 2010, and officials are set to discuss the possibility of having them remain at the National Zoo. Pandas in San Diego and Atlanta are also marked for departure this year.
YOU ARE INVITED
Save the date: the Friends of the National Zoo will host a Farewell to Tai Shan party on Saturday, January 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is open to the public.
VIEW THE OFFICIAL PANDA PHOTO GALLERY HERE.