For Release: October 17, 2005
John Gibbons(202) 633-3083
Peper Long (202) 633-3082
National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cub Is “Peaceful Mountain”
The giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo was given the name Tai Shan (tie SHON), which means “peaceful mountain” in Chinese, during a special naming ceremony this morning. In keeping with Chinese tradition, the National Zoo waited 100 days after the male cub’s birth to name him.
John Berry, the National Zoo’s director, announced the cub’s name this morning at the ceremony attended by officials from the People’s Republic of China, National Zoo visitors and staff. The ceremony included entertainment from two traditional Chinese dance troupes, children’s activities, and refreshments.
The name Tai Shan was selected during a naming contest organized by the Friends of the National Zoo. Besides the United States, votes were cast from several countries, including China, Poland, Brazil, and New Zealand. 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.
The other names and votes were: Qiang Qiang “strong, powerful” 66,195; Sheng Hua “Washington China, magnificent” 18,146; Long Shan “dragon mountain” 16,100; and Hua Sheng “China Washington magnificent” 13,359.
The naming contest was sponsored by Fujifilm, Animal Planet, and USA Weekend magazine. During today’s ceremony, the winner of the contest was announced: Rod Sallee of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Sallee was selected from a random drawing of voters. He received a private visit with the giant panda family during a tour of the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat, along with a Fujifilm digital camera, and a gift bag from Animal Planet.
Tai Shan, born on July 9, weighs nearly 13 pounds and is 25 inches long. He is the first cub for both mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian, (t-YEN t-YEN). He was conceived by artificial insemination on March 11 in a procedure performed by National Zoo scientists and veterinarians, after they determined no successful mating occurred between Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The 14-week-old cub and his parents live at the National Zoo’s Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat.
Note to Editors: Animal Planet will premier a special program about the cub on Dec. 10, 8-9 p.m. (ET/PT). The program will document the reproduction attempts, artificial insemination, birth and development so far of the National Zoo’s giant panda cub, Tai Shan.
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