Tai Shan, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo's beloved 4 ½-year-old giant panda, has arrived safely to his new home at Wolong’s Bifengxia Base in Ya’an, Sichuan. The 184-pound panda arrived at 4:26 p.m. local time in Chengdu on Feb. 5, 2010. On Feb. 4, Tai Shan’s 15-hour non-stop flight departed Dulles International Airport at 12:10 p.m. via a FedEx 777 plane, also known as the “Panda Express.”
Under the National Zoo’s agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, Tai Shan will take part in a panda breeding program at the Bifengxia Base. 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 was born at the National Zoo on July 9, 2005, to Mei Xiang (mother) and Tian Tian (father); he is the first surviving giant panda cub born at the National Zoo.
Tai Shan was transported in a custom-made, spacious, steel crate. The giant panda was trained to enter and calmly remain in the crate to prepare him for the trip to China. Tai Shan was not sedated for the journey. He was accompanied by two National Zoo staffers—veterinarian Dr. Nancy Boedeker and keeper and trainer Nicole Meese.
Upon arrival, Tai Shan entered quarantine in the Base's indoor holding area where he will remain for 30 days before making his public debut to visitors of the Bifengxia Base.
Photo Credit: James Di Loreto/Smithsonian Institution