On July 9, 2005, at 3:41 a.m. Mei Xiang gave birth to the National Zoo’s first surviving panda cub. This panda cub is Mei Xiang and Tian Tian’s first offspring.
On August 2, 2005, Zoo veterinarians conducted the first health exam on the panda cub and determined that he is a healthy male. He was 12 inches long and weighed 1.82 pounds.
The cub received second health exam on August 9, 2005 and had doubled in weight—he now weighed 2.6 pounds and was 14.25 inches long.
Tai Shan took his first step on September 22, and he took three steps in a row on September 29 before immediately falling asleep.
The cub was given his official name, Tai Shan, at a special naming ceremony on October 17, 2005. In keeping with Chinese tradition, the National Zoo waited 100 days after the cub’s birth to name him. The name Tai Shan (which means peaceful mountain) was selected during a naming contest organized by the Friends of the National Zoo. Participants chose from a list of five names approved by the Chinese; Tai Shan was the favorite, winning 88,245 votes, or 44 percent, of the 202,045 total votes cast. At this time, Tai Shan weighed nearly 13 pounds and is 25 inches long.
The National Zoo made tickets to see Tai Shan available on its website on November 21—all 13,000 tickets were taken in only two hours. An additional 18,000 tickets were available to Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) members.
The National Zoo held a press preview for Tai Shan on November 29. More than 120 journalists representing more than 60 news outlets attended.
The David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat was reopened to the public on December 8. Hundreds of visitors lined up to get their first glimpse of Tai Shan. On December 22Tai Shan ventured outdoors for the first time.
Tai Shan is one of the 25 surviving giant panda cubs born in captivity around the world in 2005.
Tai Shan entered the pool in his yard for the first time on June 1, 2006. Tai went right in without hesitation and sat in the water, swishing his feet and batting the toys around.
Tai Shan has received letters from admirers in China, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Italy, England, and Mexico. Tai has also received money, toys (hard plastic bear toys), soccer balls (when he was a cub), greeting cards, wedding and bar mitzvah invitations, and poems.
On July 21, 2007, by using positive reinforcement training, Zoo veterinarians were able to draw their first blood sample from Tai Shan without using anesthesia.
On May 6, 2008, Tai Shan is trained to allow Zoo veterinarians to apply a blood pressure cuff to his forearm for blood pressure measurement without anesthesia.
On July 9, 2009, Tai Shan celebrated his fourth birthday with a special ice “cake”—frozen ice cubes spiced with beet juice and fruit, prepared by the Zoo’s Commissary staff.