If you’re not a big panda fan, you may not be following the panda news lately. In the Knupp House, we are all about pandas, all the time, as the almost-10yo aspires (currently) to be a panda vet when he grows up.
So…background info, the DC zoo has had 2 pandas on loan from China for the past 10 years. The deal expires…this year and Mei Shang and Tian Tian are supposed to go back to China in December.
(Sorry, someday I’ll learn to insert photos CORRECTLY in my posts.)
In the meantime, though, mama and papa panda made a baby panda 4 years ago, and Tai Shan was born. If you ask my son, Tai Shan is the ultimate coolest thing ever. He knows almost as much about the 4yo panda as the DC panda keepers. We’ve watched every video about him, including the one that showed his actual birth (ever seen a teeny tiny pink critter shoot out of a mama panda bear before?), we’ve bought all the books, we have souvenirs from the National Zoo, he has a stuffed panda bear with the name Tai Shan embroidered on the paw (plus approximately 18 other stuffed pandas of all sizes. Screw visiting China to see the panda reserve…we ARE the reserve.)
So…sad, heartbreaking news this week. Tai Shan’s time in the US was up. Beyond up, actually, as the original agreement said that any offspring of Mei Shang and Tian Tian would be able to stay in the US until it turned 2. Tai was granted an extension and has been here 2 extra years. But this week was his last in DC. He flew on the Fed Ex Panda Express and arrived safely in China today. When my son found out it was time for him to go, ooooh the tears! However, we assured him Tai Shan would make new panda friends in China and would be just fine (though we’re all sad our son didn’t get to see him in person…or is that panda…while the bear still lived here.)
But wait, there’s more…a potential HEA for the DC panda saga! Mei Shang MIGHT be pregnant again! And if she is, she and daddy get to stay longer in DC, have the baby, and the baby gets to stay for…2 years! (What is this MIGHT, you ask? Well, apparently it is virtually impossible to tell if a panda is really pregnant for quite some time because they are known for developing pregnancy signs even when they aren’t, in fact, pregnant.) The panda keepers report they are 70% certain she’s expecting, and they’ll be more sure in about 3 weeks.
So…we’ll be watching and waiting curiously…and if there’s another panda baby on the way to DC, you’ll hear my son’s screams of pure panda joy from wherever you are. And we’ll be planning a trip to DC in the next 2 years…