Giant Panda Tian Tian Marks Final Birthday at DC Zoo

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Sunday was a somber birthday for one of the gigantic pandas at the National Zoo, as it was his last one in the United States before returning to China.

The 26-year-old bear, Tian Tian, and two other pandas are scheduled to depart the menagerie on December 7. The triumvirate consists of Mei Xiang, age 25, and their 3-year-old offspring, Xiao Qi Ji.

The museum stated that for his birthday on Sunday, Tian Tian received a special “fruitsicle” confection prepared with fruits and vegetables with a “frosting” of sweet potatoes, mashed carrots, and honey.

The animals were scheduled to return in 2020, but their stay has been extended due to a three-year agreement between the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and the China Wildlife and Conservation Association.

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Celebrating 50 Years of the Giant Panda Program at the National Zoo

This arrangement is part of China’s “panda diplomacy,” in which the animals serve as an ambassador of goodwill between China and their host nation. In 2022, the Giant Panda Program at the National Zoo observed its 50th anniversary.

Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived at the zoo in the early 2000s with the intention of staying for 10 years. In the last decade or so, three of Mei Xiang’s surviving cubs born in the zoo have also transferred to China as a result of the agreement, as a result of a succession of extensions granted over the years.

According to the National Zoo, a giant panda’s estimated longevity in the wild is between 15 and 20 years, while in captivity it is approximately 30 years.

 

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Source: CNN

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