Changing Planet

Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cub Turns Four

Washington D.C.’s giant panda cub, Tai Shan, officially celebrated his fourth birthday this morning–complete with singing, guests and a massive, three-tiered “veggie-sicle” cake, Smithsonian’s National Zoo said.


“The frozen masterpiece was made over the course of two weeks by Zoo commissary staff by freezing a combination of water, beets and beet juice while enhancing it with bamboo and fruit. Tai quickly took to the frozen treat, licking at the ice, spotting his furry face with the melting beet juice.

Tai Shan is on the cusp of adulthood, the zoo added “At age four, he is considered a teenager in ‘bear years.'”

Tai Shan (pronounced tie-SHON, meaning “Peaceful Mountain”) was born early in the morning on July 9, 2005. He is the first offspring of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the National Zoo’s second pair of giant pandas. They were born at the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province.

The birth of Tai Shan was a triumph for the National Zoo. Breeding of pandas in captivity has been difficult to achieve, particularly outside China.

Read more about the National Zoo’s giant pandas >> 

Smithsonian’s National Zoo photos by Mehgan Murphy


Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

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