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UPI POY 2009 - News and Features.
Tai Shan eyes up his birthday cake at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington on July 9, 2009. The zoo held an event to celebrate the panda's fourth birthday with a frozen cake made from ice, bamboo, shredded beets and beet juice. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
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Tai Shan (Chinese: 泰山; pinyin: Tài Shān, pronounced ), also known as Butterstick) is a giant panda born at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (National Zoo) in Washington, D.C on July 9, 2005 at 3:41 AM. He is the first panda cub born at the National Zoo to survive for more than a few days and is only the third to survive in the United States.

Tai Shan is the first cub born to Mei Xiang (pronounced ) and Tian Tian (), the National Zoo's second pair of giant pandas. (The first pair, Ling-Ling (female) and Hsing-Hsing (male), were donated to the National Zoo by China in 1972, shortly after Richard Nixon's historic visit. Ling-Ling died in 1992 and Hsing-Hsing in 1999 without producing any cubs that survived for more than a few days.)

Both of Tai Shan's parents were born at the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province. Mei Xiang, his mother, was artificially inseminated in March 2005 with sperm from Tian Tian after natural mating between the pair appeared unsuccessful. Per the agreement with China, the Chinese government can require that Tai Shan be sent to China any time after he turns 2 as he, like his parents, is the property of China. (Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are technically being "leased" to the United States by the Chinese government in a ten-year, $10 million agreement, with the money to go to panda conservation research in China.) The National Zoo announced in April 2007 that it reached an agreement with the Chinese government to let Tai Shan remain at the National Zoo until at least July of 2009. The announcement was made when Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong presented Tai Shan a "passport" with an extended stay period to July 2009, without extra charge.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tai Shan."
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