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Gerry M. Kaye

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Panda Cub Debut -
"A Little Bit of Something Very Cute At The San Diego Zoo"
NEWS Report, Dec 30, 2005

Nov. 30, 2005, 5:00 A.M., PT

"What?" you say. "A Panda for President, that's silly!"

But, "Tai Shan", which means "Peaceful Mountain" in Chinese, born on July 9, is no ordinary Panda. Look at his media debut, yesterday. There was sheer panda-monium at Washington's National Zoo as the fluffy, almost five months old, giant Panda cub did not disappoint as he cavorted for the cameras for five shifts of journalists from around the world, comprising over 100 reporters and camera crews making up his "Panda Paparazzi", as he stretched out on rocks in his enclosure and playfully peeked out behind tall grass.

The cuddly black & white cub showed off his aquatic skills as he splashed through water, bouncing quickly back up after falling awkwardly off a small rock. He chased his zoo keeper around, trying to nibble at the hems of her jeans. He pulled himself over the ledge of the habitat's rocky centerpiece. He tumbled onto his back, and he gummed at the bamboo stalks that will be his mainstay diet; all while the cameras snapped consistently. "He's just a fantastic little bear," said Lisa Stevens, the zoo's assistant curator for pandas. "He's climbing all over his cage."

Normally gloomy and preoccupied Washington D. C. has perked up considerably over the celebrity cub, who now weighs 21 pounds (9.5 kilograms), with a webcam posted inside his pen to watch his fascinating cavortings.

Tai Shan goes on public view on December 8, and such is his appeal, all 13,000 tickets for a first round of public viewing were gone within two hours on the zoo's web site.

His further impressive attributes finds him up often very early at about 4-5 A.M., with energy to burn as he plays and climbs on his mom and over rocks, obviously enjoying life and lovin' it! Giant panda births are exceedingly rare, and in line with Chinese tradition, the cub was not named until 100 days after its birth, when survival is considered assured.

His flexibility finds him sometimes sleepin' in, undoubtedly shoring up energy for the next media blitz.

The baby panda's proud mother, seven year-old Mei Xiang, was artificially inseminated in March with sperm from Tian Tian, her seven year old zoo companion. The pair are on a 10 year loan from China that began in 2000.

Tai Shan now weighs 21 pounds, two pounds more than he did just one week ago. The name, one of five proposed for the cub, received 44 percent of an estimated 200,000 votes cast on the zoo's Web site. He won't be weaned off mother Mei Xiang's milk for another year or so.

The deal is that the famous Tai Shan will spend two years in Washington's National Zoo before he's returned to China. But perhaps there's a way to convince the Chinese to let him stay, as a nice and friendly gesture; after all, they've benefited from so much high tech business from over here. By 2008 he'll be ready as a full fledged U.S. adult citizen to run, and his noble attributes could make him a really fine candidate: likable, popular, honest, trustworthy, definitely non-partisan, harmless, what more could we want?

He'd get my vote. We certainly could use someone whose name literally means: "Peaceful Mountain."

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Featured NEWS Report - Panda Cub Debut - 
"A Little Bit of Something VeryCute At The San Diego Zoo"

SAN DIEGO, Ca.  - Su Lin, one of two panda cubs in the United States, was born on August 2, 05. The panda and her mother, Bai Yun, are on loan to the San Diego Zoo from the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in China. Thousands of holiday visitors lined up this week to see and photograph the cub, whose name means "a little bit of something very cute." The panda and her mother are placed in an enclosed public viewing area for three hours each morning, after which the door between a public and private area are left open so they can wander back and forth. "We've been watching her mom's behavior because Su Lin takes her signals from her mom," said senior keeper Joanne Simerson. "Bai Yun is very comfortable being in public and Su Lin seems to be too."
Reference: (Reuters)NEWS - Dec 30, 7:00 PM ET  - "Panda Cub Creates Stir in California Debut" By Marty Graham

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