Game tai anjing

Tai Shan and his mother were playfully wrestling this summer when she accidentally knocked hlặng off the top of an indoor roông xã. The National Zoo"s prized panda cub tumbled about five feet và let out a loud squeal when he hit the floor.

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The cub was more scared than hurt. But about as fast as mom Mei Xiang could rush to lớn his side, the animal park was bombarded with calls and e-mails from worried pandomain authority fans who had witnessed the mishap on the zoo"s webcam.

No doubt about it: Tai Shan is one of the most watched celebrities in Washington. He draws crowds and special guests, including first lady Laura Bush & the Queen of Bhurã. He has a large following that monitors his antics on the zoo"s Web site, generating 21 million hits. Zoo staff & volunteers spover hours each day charting his development & behavior. This month, he & his mother nói qua the cover of National Geographic magazine.

Today, as he turns 1 year old, zoo officials will lead the public in toasting Tai Shan with a four-hour birthday celebration. He"ll get a fruitsicle instead of a cake.

The milestone also marks a halfway point: An agreement with Trung Quốc calls for sending the cub there when he turns 2 for future breeding. There is hope within zoo circles of keeping Tai Shan in Washington a bit longer, because his services as a breeding partner probably won"t be needed until he is 5 or 6.

Letters & e-mails arrive at the zoo daily from around the world, describing how the pandomain authority has brightened lives. The bachồng room of the Panda House showcases an impressive inventory of gifts & mail for the cub and keepers -- everything from cards & photos to wedding invitations và elaborately knitted mufflers with the cub"s name.

After decades of breeding disappointments, during which the zoo"s previous panda pair failed to lớn produce a surviving cub, animal lovers have sầu marveled to see Tai Shan grow from a helpless, hairless creature no bigger than a stiông xã of butter inlớn a 56-pound furry symbol of scientific perseverance.

"It"s been wonderful," said Lisa Stevens, the zoo"s panda curator. "You try for something for so long, & then it finally happens. It"s a terrific reward for the team that has worked on this all these years."

The team, in this case, is a dedicated group of zoo scientists, keepers and volunteers. They collected and analyzed panda data from Mei Xiang and her mate, Tian Tian, và their predecessors, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing. They studied the intimate details of bear biology và worked to maximize the notoriously narrow window of opportunity -- about three days a year -- for breeding this endangered species.

These efforts paid off March 11, 2005, although it would be four months before the zoo would know it. That winter morning, with the pandas failing to lớn mate naturally và hooc môn tests of Mei Xiang"s urine indicating peak fertility, she was anesthetized. Reproductive scientist JoGayle Howard used a tiny laparoscope with a light khổng lồ persize artificial insemination.

That single, scientifically timed procedure was in contrast to lớn practices in Trung Quốc, native sầu habitat to about 1,600 giant pandas in the wild & fewer than 180 in captivity. The Chinese bởi artificial insemination on three consecutive days, which requires anesthetizing both the female và the male each time, putting the animals at greater risk.

What the National Zoo accomplished in one try was hailed as a breakthrough.

"Now that we"ve sầu got a cub on the ground, the Chinese realize that we know what we"re talking about," Howard said.

Over the past year, zoo scientists have visited China to lớn nói qua breeding information và demonstrate their work, & three Chinese veterinarians have sầu come to the zoo lớn study the procedure & other innovations in pandomain authority management, including improved nutrition. The zoo"s scientists are continuing their research into lớn pandomain authority procreation và hope lớn find a way khổng lồ know for sure when a giant panda is pregnant. With Mei Xiang, it was a guessing game until she gave sầu birth.

The zoo plans khổng lồ breed Mei Xiang again in the spring & will resort to artificial means if necessary, perhaps experimenting with thawing frozen sperm from Tian Tian or a male panda at the San Diego Zoo, a technique that would make it easier to breed genetically diverse offspring without moving the animals to lớn different zoos.

"We still have hopes that our male will get the job done, but it"s nice khổng lồ have options," Howard said.

Tian Tian, who has been separated from Mei Xiang since the cub"s birth, has been amazingly self-sufficient, keepers say. He will rejoin his mate during the breeding season, probably in March, but will not be allowed near Tai Shan as a precaution.

Mei Xiang has been "a fabulous mother" lớn Tai Shan, according lớn Howard & the zoo"s chief veterinarian, Suzan Murray. They said they know of plenty of frightened, first-time pandomain authority moms that have sầu walked away when cubs were born.

"She did it perfectly," Howard said. "The pandomain authority cam showed that she was pure hands-on 24/7, và she continued to be attentive" as he grew.

The healthy cub, who will be completely weaned by spring, has developed somewhat more quickly than the three cubs born in San Diego, picking up weight faster & scent-marking earlier.

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He bounds into his yard about 7 a.m. these days, a treat for early visitors. He plays a bit, sometimes with his mom, then climbs a favorite tree for a mid-morning nap. He comes down periodically and usually goes inside at night when called.

Except when he doesn"t.

Several months ago, Tai Shan, whose name means "peaceful mountain," stubbornly remained in a tree và barked at zoo director John Berry, who tried lớn coax hlặng down for a special evening appearance before the Smithsonian Institution regents. And last month, the cub braved a rainstorm, refusing to lớn come inside until 11 p.m.

Curator Stevens, who has been chewed out by panda fans for jokingly calling hlặng a "little monster" in her Web site reports, said it has been a joy to lớn watch the cub"s "amazing metamorphosis."

The Fujifilm Giant Pandomain authority Habitat has drawn an estimated 1.2 million visits since Tai Shan"s December debut, with adoring crowds who snapped up miễn phí online tickets.

But if giant pandas are crowd pleasers, they vị not ensure zoo profits. The average annual cost for a couple with a cub is about $3.2 million, according to a study done by Zoo Atlanta, one of four animal parks in the United States with pandas. The amount includes a $1 million-a-year fee to lớn exhibit a male và female panda và a one-time charge of $600,000 if a cub is born, funds that go toward panda conservation in Trung Quốc. Zoos, which are hoping to negotiate cheaper loan agreements with Đài Loan Trung Quốc, incur additional costs in pandomain authority care, exhibit upkeep and staff research & training.

The National Zoo does not charge admission. But Tai Shan"s popularity has helped boost revenue from parking, refreshments và souvenirs.

Overall merchandising sales at the zoo have gone up dramatically, from $1.7 million in the first half of 2005, before the cub was born, to lớn $3.3 million in the first half of this year, according lớn the zoo. Tai Shan "products" -- including pictures, postcards và plushes -- account for about 23 percent of that total.

David Wildt, who heads the zoo"s Department of Reproductive Sciences, heralds the scientific advances that brought Tai Shan into lớn the world. He recently returned from Đài Loan Trung Quốc, reporting that zoo funds earmarked for panda conservation are being well spent.

The monies have sầu helped pay for training và equipment in new biomedical & animal reproductive sầu technologies at pandomain authority reserves. The funds also have supported retìm kiếm and built shelters for the Chinese teams that spend days in snow-covered mountains monitoring pandas in the wild. Pandomain authority births in China, particularly of male cubs, have recently increased, boosting the zoo"s hopes that it can keep Tai Shan beyond his second birthday.

The zoo"s new giant pandomain authority exhibit opens in September. It will double the outdoor space for a pandomain authority family, with plenty of room for Tai Shan -- and, hopefully, a sibling.

"We want lớn have hlặng remain with us for awhile, until he is needed," Wildt said. "He"s the living offspring of our work and an incredible ambassador for saving pandas in China."


Tai Shan"s Fans Flochồng to lớn the Zoo For a Panda-Size Birthday Bash

By Sue Anne Pressley Montes

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, July 10, 2006

The birthday boy did not seem too impressed by all the attention, but by now, Tai Shan is used lớn the cameras, the faces, the "oohs" & "ahs." At his first birthday các buổi tiệc nhỏ yesterday, the celebrity pandomain authority cub was more interested in his presents -- a play pool filled with ice water và a fruitsicle shaped like a giant cake -- than in the thousands of people who came khổng lồ tell hyên ổn how dễ thương he is & how much he has meant to lớn the National Zoo.

"He"s a roông chồng star," said Chevy Chase lawyer Roger Goldman after the cub"s big phokhổng lồ op, wrestling his mother for part of the popsicle. "He"s lượt thích Miông chồng Jagger or somebody toàn thân."

It was a day of đáng yêu -- but who thought it wouldn"t be? Brownie Troop 3907 from Gaithersburg sang "Happy Birthday" twice. A FedEx van pulled up with "a special delivery" -- a birthday cake for the people guests. Heads young and old sported pointy green Tai Shan các buổi tiệc nhỏ hats, và many a hand clutched a stuffed version of you-know-who, available for $13.99 (small) or $19.99 (large) in one of the souvenir huts.

As early as 7 a.m., fans began amassing outside the zoo for the 10 a.m. opening of the Panda House. Juli Brown, 31, traveled farther than most, flying in from her home in Greeneville, Tenn., on Saturday "just to see the baby" she"s been watching from afar on the zoo"s webcam, which has had 21 million hits since his birth. She has seen hyên scramble up trees, munch on bamboo, play in snow for the first time and grow -- and grow.

From the moment he was born, Tai Shan has commanded the spotlight. Giant pandas, which are endangered, are difficult khổng lồ breed, & the Zoo"s three decades of struggling to produce a healthy cub had resulted in many disappointments. A previous pair of adult pandas had produced five sầu cubs during the 1980s, but none lived more than few days. When Tai Shan was born on July 9, 2005, weighing four ounces, he was initially dubbed "Butterstichồng," since he was only the form size of a stick of butter. Things have sầu changed.

"Now, he"s Butterball," said Mary Schultz of Dallastown, Pa., about the roly-poly cub who now weighs a robust 56 pounds.

Undoubtedly there are a few people out there who may be a little tired of the ongoing chronicles of Tai Shan, who believe sầu the cub"s adorability factor has been milked. But the Schultzes & others who attended yesterday"s sự kiện are not those people. Danny Schultz was so inspired by repeated visits và much reading about pandas that he signed up a while baông chồng as a zoo volunteer. Now, he drives the four-hour round-trip each Thursday to lớn enlighten others about Tai Shan"s activities, likes và dislikes.

"I can"t believe he"s a year old," Schultz said, echoing the thoughts of many at the các buổi tiệc nhỏ. "It"s gone by so fast."

For his birthday appearance, Tai Shan performed like the little star he is, emerging with his mother, Mei Xiang, and ignoring all the staring people. With Mom, he meandered down the path toward his new play pool, ball & his first fruitsicle -- a frozen treat made of bamboo leaves, carrots, pears, beets & apples.

"Come on, Tai," zoo director John Berry cooed softly from the viewing area, as the cub moved toward the small, bright-xanh pool. "He has delivered every step of the way since he was born."

And he delivered again yesterday, delighting his fans by dipping a paw into lớn the pool, then turning toward the fruitsicle, as if noticing it for the first time. For a moment, he seemed torn, looking baông xã and forth from the pool to the treat, as if deliberating what to vị next. But the popsicle eventually won, and Tai Shan embraced it in a big panda hug that sent camera crews scurrying lớn catch the perfect buổi tiệc ngọt shot.

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There was one small cloud in an otherwise happy day. Tai Shan, like his parents, is on loan khổng lồ the Zoo from Trung Quốc, &, as it stands, plans are to send hlặng there shortly after he turns 2. Yesterday nobody wanted khổng lồ think about that -- or how fast a year can go by.

"I lượt thích that panda," said Joshua Perez, 9, of Woodbridge, who is "really inkhổng lồ animals" và has visited Tai Shan several times. "I want to lớn be either an actor or a zookeeper."

He và his mother, Joanna, have sầu talked about the cub"s eventual departure. "I guess it"s fair," she said, "but it"s sad lớn think about. We don"t want hyên khổng lồ go."

Chuyên mục: Tin Tức