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Author Topic: Pandas to China  (Read 10264 times)
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huddiecat
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« on: 01-Feb-10, 04:20:39 PM »

Oh sigh, I was hoping to be able to go to DC this past weekend to say "good bye" to Tai Shan!  When he was little I was home with an injury and spent many hours watching him on the cam!  When they finally allowed the public to see him, we went there.  We had tickets for a 20 minute viewing, but the weather was terrible, so very few people showed up.  They let us watch him for two hours!  We took hundreds of photos of him!

Hopefully there will be a new baby Panda at the National Zoo this year happy
Suzanne
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« Reply #1 on: 01-Feb-10, 05:36:43 PM »

Oh sigh, I was hoping to be able to go to DC this past weekend to say "good bye" to Tai Shan!  When he was little I was home with an injury and spent many hours watching him on the cam!  When they finally allowed the public to see him, we went there.  We had tickets for a 20 minute viewing, but the weather was terrible, so very few people showed up.  They let us watch him for two hours!  We took hundreds of photos of him!

Hopefully there will be a new baby Panda at the National Zoo this year happy
Suzanne

Nice........can we see them?
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« Reply #2 on: 01-Feb-10, 08:24:37 PM »

It would be great to see them, Suzanne!

I hope there is a baby cub there too!  I also hope the Panda reserve can be persuaded to have a web cam!!!  Happy that he is going to be part of a breeding program but I really loved watching him!
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Kris G.
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« Reply #3 on: 04-Feb-10, 05:45:01 PM »

Tai Shan officially began his journey to China early this morning, leaving the Zoo at 9:04 a.m. The four-and-a-half-year-old panda is on his way to Dulles International Airport, where he will board a FedEx 777 plane bound for Chengdu. The non-stop flight will take about 14 hours. Over the years, Tai Shan has become a celebrity in Washington, and will now take on a new role in China as part of a panda breeding program at Wolong’s Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya’an, Sichuan.

Since his birth July 9, 2005, Tai Shan, whose name means “peaceful mountain,” has attracted millions of visitors worldwide to the National Zoo and to the Zoo’s panda cams. The Zoo successfully negotiated two extensions with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which allowed the Zoo to keep Tai Shan for two and a half years beyond the original two-year contract.

“Tai Shan’s departure is bittersweet for his fans and the Zoo staff, as he has been a true ambassador for the giant panda species in the United States over the past four and a half years,” said Steven Monfort, the Zoo’s acting director. “Because we had the opportunity to keep him longer, our Chinese partners have allowed us to learn more about giant pandas by charting his growth and development. But the time has come to say goodbye, and we know Tai’s next phase will be to help save his species in China.”

Tai Shan is expected to depart from Dulles about noon today and is traveling in a steel crate that measures 77 1/2 inches long, 56 1/2 inches wide and 50 inches tall. He will have fruit (pears are his favorite), vegetables, biscuits and about 55 pounds of bamboo to keep him fed during his journey. Tai Shan will not be the only bear aboard the “FedEx Panda Express.” Zoo Atlanta’s three-year-old giant panda, Mei Lan, is joining him on her voyage to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Tai Shan will be accompanied by Zoo veterinarian Nancy Boedeker and keeper and trainer Nicole Meese.

FedEx has donated the transportation and logistical services to both the National Zoo and Zoo Atlanta. The “FedEx Panda Express,” with a panda decal on its fuselage, is a 777F aircraft designed to carry only the pandas and their human companions on the 8,600-mile flight.

“I am honored to be able to accompany Tai Shan to his new home in China,” Meese said. “Tai has touched so many people, not only those of us who are lucky enough to know and work with him personally but also those who watched him from a distance. We’ll all be looking forward to the day when Tai Shan becomes a father, ensuring another generation of pandas for all to enjoy.”

In the meantime, Zoo staff and volunteers will be monitoring its female panda—Tai Shan’s mother, Mei Xiang—for indications that she is pregnant. In January, a team of Zoo scientists and collaborators performed two flawless artificial inseminations, but it will take 90 to 185 days to determine whether she is carrying a cub. The contract for Mei Xiang and Tai Shan’s father, Tian Tian, expires in December and the Zoo will negotiate for an extension.

“We’re confident giant pandas will always reside at the National Zoo,” said Don Moore, the Zoo’s associate director of animal care sciences. “From Tai Shan, Smithsonian’s researchers learned valuable information about panda behavior, while his parents have taught us more about the reproductive process unique to pandas. We’re looking forward to continuing this vital research with our adult pandas and, fingers crossed, with another cub.”

The National Zoo is a recognized leader in the care and study of the giant panda. The Zoo has worked for decades to conserve this endangered species and intends to continue its commitment to giant panda research in situ and at the Zoo. About 1,600 giant pandas exist in the wild and nearly 300 live in zoos and research facilities in China and around the world


Video of departure:
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/TaiShan/departurevideo.cfm


 
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« Reply #4 on: 04-Feb-10, 06:00:30 PM »




And She’s Off!
2-04-10


Zoo Atlanta’s Mei Lan departs for China

ATLANTA – February 4, 2010 – Mei Lan, a 3-year-old female giant panda from Zoo Atlanta, departed for China on February 4, 2010. Transportation for the world-famous bear was generously donated by FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX).

Zoo Volunteers and Docents lined the sidewalks of Cherokee Avenue for a parting glimpse as the FedEx truck transporting Mei Lan left Zoo Atlanta at 6:30 a.m. Her vehicle was escorted by an Atlanta Police motorcade on the trip to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Mei Lan’s aircraft, a custom-decaled FedEx Express 777F christened the FedEx Panda Express, was waiting at the airport for its precious cargo at 7:00 a.m. Officials loaded an enormous FedEx box packed with farewell cards signed by hundreds of fans as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Mike Ducker, Chief Operating Officer, FedEx Express; former Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Dennis Kelly; and Ben De Costa, General Manager, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, delivered opening remarks. The jet received a ceremonial washdown salute before taking off at 8:15 a.m.

The FedEx Panda Express was en route to Washington’s Dulles International Airport to retrieve Mei Lan’s fellow passenger, 4-year-old male Tai Shan from Smithsonian’s National Zoo, for a nonstop flight to Chengdu, China. Mei Lan is accompanied by Zoo Atlanta Giant Panda Keeper Heather Roberts, who will spend the next 10 days with her at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

“This is a bittersweet moment for the Zoo Atlanta family and for fans around the world, but it’s a wonderful moment for giant pandas,” said Zoo Atlanta Curator of Mammals Dr. Rebecca Snyder. “We’re very proud to have shared Mei Lan’s life to the point where she can now begin making her own contributions to the world’s population of giant pandas.”

Thousands of local, national and international fans paid tribute to Zoo Atlanta’s firstborn giant panda cub during her last weeks in Atlanta, even braving a particularly cold and rainy Saturday to attend her Farewell Celebration on January 30. Following an exclusive raffle drawing offered during the celebration, Zoo Atlanta Docent Lynne LaVallee won the coveted opportunity to witness Mei Lan’s final exit from outside the giant panda building Thursday morning.

Mei Lan’s many admirers can find updated information about the pandas’ journey at news.fedex.com/pandas. As they become available, updates on Mei Lan’s progress in China will be posted on zooatlanta.org.







 
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« Reply #5 on: 04-Feb-10, 08:46:32 PM »

There was coverage by the DC stations and the washington post.  Reporters also went on the plane for a time as well. 

http://www.myfoxdc.com/

I hope that the panda reserve will send updates on the little guy
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« Reply #6 on: 04-Feb-10, 11:21:59 PM »

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/04/...

For Tai Shan, voyage to China is a trip to obscurity and sex
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, February 5, 2010; B04

BIFENGXIA PANDA BASE, CHINA -- Gone are the days of custom-made birthday cakes, waterfalls and fans cheering his every move. When Tai Shan the giant panda lands in his ancestral homeland on Friday, he will abruptly give up his celebrity status.

In the United States, Tai Shan was special, the only baby panda to survive past infancy in the nation's capital.

But at the panda center in the lush mountains of south-central China, he will be just one of 150. His purpose will no longer be to delight tourists; it will be to breed.

As a result, Chinese officials here say that they feel no need to make special accommodations for Tai Shan -- in housing, food or language -- and that if conditions are not to his liking, he'll have to adjust.

"Americans are too emotional about Tai Shan," said Wu Daifu, the 32-year-old zookeeper who was assigned to be the adolescent panda's principal feeder and friend.

Like other Chinese, Wu shakes his head in puzzlement over the months-long, tearful goodbyes following the announcement that the 4 1/2 -year-old Tai Shan would be leaving the National Zoo.

Tai Shan won't be put into the center's breeding program right away because the success rate is higher when males are 6 1/2 to 7 years old, making 2012 the ideal year. But he will start psychological training, researchers said. He'll be shown videos of pandas mating and get to hear tapes of female pandas calling for males.

There are high hopes for Tai Shan, who is named after the majestic mountain in central China that is the subject of countless poems and was once a retreat for royalty. His grandfather Pan Pan is the breeding program's star, having produced more than 100 offspring in his 24 years.

Loans of giant pandas to American zoos began in the 1970s as part of a strategy to engender goodwill, known as panda diplomacy. The endangered pandas became such a tourist draw that countries began to pay China to borrow the animals. Tai Shan's parents, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, arrived in Washington on Dec. 6, 2000, on a $10 million, 10-year loan.

Under the terms of the deal, any cubs would be the property of China. Tai Shan, born in July 2005, was supposed to be sent to China when he was 2 but was granted several extensions. His time in Washington finally came to an end when Chinese officials said he was needed for the country's panda breeding program.

Tai Shan left on Thursday on a FedEx jet for the 8,642-mile, 14 1/2 -hour flight from Dulles to Chengdu in China's Sichuan Province.

With only an estimated 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild, China has been aggressively breeding pandas in captivity. It has employed fertility treatments for female pandas, shipped frozen panda sperm from zoo to zoo and coaxed each panda to mate with three or more others each breeding season.

Not everyone agrees with such methods. Some Chinese scientists, for instance, say that trying to create test-tube pandas unnecessarily creates pain for females who have to undergo surgery, and that similar results can be achieved through alternative means. Others say the money spent on whiz-bang technology at breeding centers would be better spent on habitat preservation.

But the program has achieved results: In 1999, the government had 123 pandas in breeding centers and zoos around the world. In 2009, the number had grown to 249.

The pressures that go with panda life in China are a far cry from his time at the National Zoo, where Tai Shan was a rock star despite the fact that all he did most days was lie on his back and eat bamboo.

The subject of a documentary, a model for zoo merchandise and the inspiration for a commemorative postage stamp, he drew millions of visitors to Washington each year. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty once referred to Tai Shan as the city's most important citizen.

His welcome in China is likely to be underwhelming.

In a village just 10 minutes from the panda center, residents said they know little of pandas, much less Tai Shan.

"I've only seen pandas on TV. I have never seen a real one," said Deng Guobin, a 35-year-old farmer. "My life doesn't have connections to pandas."

Wang Qiubo, 35, said she snuck into the panda park a few years ago on a whim but "I feel pandas are just so-so, not that interesting. . . . I have no idea who Tai Shan is. To be frank, I don't care."

In Washington, Tai Shan, who was once so small he was compared to a stick of butter but quickly grew into a 184-pound-bruiser, not only had the notoriety of a prince but lived like one. He spent his days in a 12,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar custom-built home he shared with his parents. It included rocky outcrops for climbing, grottoes for privacy, weeping willows for shade and pools and a waterfall for cooling off.

The Bifengxia center is built in the magical bamboo forests of China that are featured in movies and that are the giant panda's natural habitat. His new home in Panda Villa No. 1 is a standard-issue 17-by-20-foot concrete hut attached to a 10,000-plus-square-foot outdoor play area. It has majestic views of the surrounding mountains and crisp, unpolluted air, but its climbing areas are falling apart. Zoo officials said Tai Shan will probably share the villa with another panda, although the two will be separated by a wall. His companion will most likely be a female named Snow White.

The facility has been crowded since 2008, when a devastating earthquake destroyed a nearby panda conservation center and the two had to merge.

"We are really suffering from a housing shortage," said Huang Yan, the center's assistant director of engineering.

About 90 percent of a typical panda's diet is bamboo, but in Washington, Tai Shan was allowed to feast on cooked sweet potatoes and, his favorite, pears. He also had a yearly birthday cake. In Bifengxia, Tai Shan will be served only bamboo along with steamed bread made of corn mixed with apples and carrots.

"We won't arrange a special menu for Tai Shan," Huang said. "We will give him the same menu as other pandas."

Tai Shan's travel companion, Mei Lan, a cub born in Atlanta who was heading to China on the same flight but will go to a different panda reserve, will have a special Mandarin tutor to help ease her transition. But the scientists at Bifengxia said total immersion after a days-long transition period will be the best thing for Tai Shan.

"I will speak Mandarin to him," said veterinarian Wang Chengdong. "If I speak Chinese, he will get used to Chinese and he can more easily blend in with the rest of the panda group."

Because Tai Shan is needed for the breeding program, officials said, there's little hope of his being allowed to return to the United States.

"If he goes back to the States, he will have limited choices for a spouse. So it will be good for him and the panda family if he stays in China," Huang said. But he added that after a one-month quarantine, Tai Shan will be allowed to greet visitors again. "His fans in the United States will be welcome to come here to see him again."
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« Reply #7 on: 05-Feb-10, 09:30:26 AM »

This is very sad for both Mei Lan and Tai Shan.  Forced breeding, indoctrination, cramped quarters-sounds like a puppy mill.  Sad
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« Reply #8 on: 05-Feb-10, 10:19:19 AM »

This is very sad for both Mei Lan and Tai Shan.  Forced breeding, indoctrination, cramped quarters-sounds like a puppy mill.  Sad

Bring them all over here at least we love them and take good care of them....this is very sad.
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« Reply #9 on: 05-Feb-10, 11:52:00 AM »

I have been really sad about all of this.  I did find out that this article is probably skewed and that the keepers love the pandas.  Apparently, they were met by a crowd of enthusiasts when the fedex plane landed (fed ex paid for the flight and had a panda picture on the plane).

I hope that there will someday be a panda cam at those centers so we can see how these little ones are doing.  A group from the states tried to adopt tai shan but a chinese company already did.  Adoption provides for a panda's lifetime needs. 
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« Reply #10 on: 05-Feb-10, 12:26:34 PM »

I somehow think something got lost in translation.  While Tai Shan may not be a "rock star" anymore, the pandas are well taken care of and loved by their keepers.  Anyone who saw Mao Mao's keeper when her body was found after the earthquake knows how much the keepers care.  There is a bit of a space crunch right now until a new center is built to replace the one that was destroyed.  I've read many reports of visitors who say, while the quarters aren't as spacious as a zoo, they are adequate and the pandas seem content.

Tai Shan and Mei Lan have arrived safely...reports and photos at Pandas Live On
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« Reply #11 on: 05-Feb-10, 12:48:30 PM »

Ei,

What a great link!  They even have pictures of mei lan's possible "boyfriends!"

After seeing this link and reading others, I think it is clear that that writer had a very negative agenda. 

I remember reading about mao mao's keeper and was so touched by his genuine affection.  Not to mention the keepers who rescued all of the pandas and volunteers when that earthquake hit.  I am most relieved that these two little ones are in good hands.
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« Reply #12 on: 05-Feb-10, 01:04:34 PM »

I was wondering if it was a misguided attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor...didn't work for me!

When I get home I can post some other links I have saved-pictures of Hua Mei & Mei Sheng from San Diego.  I'm not a fan of their rushing the babies away from the mothers, but sometimes saving a species from extinction isn't pretty...
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« Reply #13 on: 05-Feb-10, 01:33:35 PM »

I was wondering if it was a misguided attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor...didn't work for me!

When I get home I can post some other links I have saved-pictures of Hua Mei & Mei Sheng from San Diego.  I'm not a fan of their rushing the babies away from the mothers, but sometimes saving a species from extinction isn't pretty...

That would be great, Ei!  I am sad that Tai is gone but his species needs to be saved. 
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« Reply #14 on: 05-Feb-10, 02:07:12 PM »

This is very sad for both Mei Lan and Tai Shan.  Forced breeding, indoctrination, cramped quarters-sounds like a puppy mill.  Sad
Please...  frustrated
"Puppy Mill" is a term coined by PETA and H$U$ minions, who use it to describe ANYone who breeds any animal.  Of course there are some substandard breeders, and they need to be stopped, but PM is an over worked and non-defined term, certainly not applicable to a Panda conservation program.
FORCED breeding?  Another term used by those who believe in the eventual elimination of all animals from humans' lives.  aaarggh
Rather than condemning the Chinese program, we should be lauding it, as one of the REAL conservation efforts.
Thank you,
Carol
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