Big Celebrations at the Giant Panda Habitat
Tai Shan's First Birthday
On July 9, thousands of people came to the Giant Panda Habitat to celebrate Tai Shan's first birthday. The festivities included talks with Zoo panda keepers and scientists, performances by traditional Chinese dancers and musicians, free cupcakes from Whole Foods Market to the first 1,000 visitors, photo opportunities with a giant panda costumed character, and more.
Visitors got to see the crate that carried Mei Xiang and Tian Tian on FedEx’s “Panda One” when they flew from China to Washington, D.C., in 2000. At the celebration, a FedEx vehicle delivered a special birthday cake, donated by Ann Amernick and Frank Ruta of Palena Restaurant.
The birthday cub enjoyed a custom-made frozen treat, prepared by Zoo nutritionists and made of bamboo leaves, carrots, pears, beets, apples, and apple juice suspended in ice. Tai also spent time in a new baby pool, donated by Fujifilm.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this a very special day at the Zoo, including those who created birthday cards, and Brownie Troop 3907 from Gaithersburg, Maryland, who sang "Happy Birthday" to Tai Shan.
Special thanks to lead panda corporate partner Fujifilm, exclusive panda media sponsor Animal Planet, and birthday partners FedEx Corp., Panda Express, the Washington Mystics, and Whole Foods Market.
On July 20, we celebrated the ten millionth visitor to the Giant Panda Habitat since Mei Xiang and Tian Tian debuted in January 2001. Nine-year-old Emma Snyder, from Windsor, Pennsylvania, was visiting the Zoo with her sister, Kristie, 12, and parents, Jan and Lisa. Zoo Director John Berry presented Emma with prizes including a Fujifilm FinePix A400 digital camera with carrying case, an Animal Planet gift bag, and a giant panda plush toy. The next 500 visitors received a Fujifilm Photo Safari guide with photography tips and suggestions for vantage points from which to photograph Zoo animals.
Zoo Director John Berry with the ten millionth visitor, her family, and a costumed giant panda.
Giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Tai Shan celebrated the milestone by frolicking in pools of ice purchased through a generous donation by a group of private citizensand passionate giant panda fanswho call themselves Pandas Unlimited. The group began with one local resident posting her photos of the Zoo's pandas online and has since grown to nearly 700 people around the world who have contributed about $4,000 to a new Giant Panda Enrichment Fund at the National Zoo. Money from the fund paid for the pools and the delivery of 2,000 pounds of ice.