Scholastic News
Latest News
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
Zoos
Species Survival
U.S. Animals
Background
Activities

See All Special Reports
Name that Panda
By Steven Ehrenberg

Tai Shan was born on July 9, 2005.
Tai Shan was born on July 9, 2005.
(Photo: Photo: Jessie Cohen/The National Zoo)
October 17, 2005—For his birthday, the baby panda at the National Zoo got a gift from more than 200,000 people: a name.

Panda fans around the world voted online to call the cub Tai Shan (tai SHON), which means "peaceful mountain." The winning name was announced on Monday, 100 days after the giant panda was born. It's a Chinese tradition to wait 100 days before naming a newborn panda.

The naming was part of a celebration that featured traditional Chinese dancers, a martial arts performance, and games for kids. But the birthday boy missed the party. Tai Shan stayed home in his den with his mom, Mei Xiang (may shawng). She prefers that her little son stay in his room, often dragging him back inside after zookeepers lure him out.

Endangered and Adorable

Baby giant pandas cause a stir because they're incredibly cute. But there are also fewer than 1,000 giant pandas left in the world, so each new panda is cause for excitement.

Most pandas live in the damp forests of southwest China, where they munch on bamboo. As China's population grew and grew, more and more of the forests were cut down. In 1989, China passed a law to conserve the panda's remaining habitat, or home. But the panda population continued to shrink.

China loaned Mei Xiang and her mate, Tian Tian (tyen tyen), to the United States five years ago. So even though Tai Shan was born in Washington, D.C., he belongs to China. He will be sent to his parents' homeland after his second birthday.

Zoo officials hope to put Tai Shan on public view by December. But if you can't wait, you can take a peek at the black-and-white toddler on the National Zoo's pandacam, a camera that broadcasts Tai Shan's wanderings and naps on the Web.