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Posted at 5:27 PM ET, 11/30/2005

Black and White and Revered All Over

By Erin

I had the pleasure of meeting Tai Shan yesterday morning.

Those of us who gathered for his pre-dawn media debut hoped for some cute-and-cuddly entertainment, and the rambunctious little cub didn't let us down. He climbed up a small rock structure in the Giant Panda Habitat, fell on his back, wrestled with hay and took a slide down his waterfall luge ... well, not that last one, but he did put on a good show.

At the ripe age of 4 and 1/2 months, Tai Shan already has tons of followers swooning over his every move, and the little guy already knows to play to his fans. A handler brought him out and he wiggled around and stretched himself, spanning her torso. When she set him down, Tai Shan ran behind the rock where nobody could see him, prompting a momentary sense of panic as photographers scrambled to find an angle with a view. Our fears proved unfounded within seconds, though. Tai Shan sauntered out from behind the rock and started doing his panda cub-thing.

As for his personality, Lisa Stevens, assistant curator for the pandas, described him as a "fantastic little bear" who is, like Yogi, smarter than the average. She agreed that the cub has, at times, looked more like a tail-less rat or guinea pig than a panda, but maintained that he is now perfectly formed.

As for Tai Shan's nightlife (since no Going Out Guru interview would be complete without inquiry into his nightlife agenda), the staff doesn't know what he does. He is most active early in the morning, but he could very well have a secret life after the panda cam shuts down at 7 p.m. If you're wondering about his infamous nickname, the staff is "so over the name Butterstick," Stevens says.

Got panda questions? Post them below and I'll do my best to address them.

-- Erin

By Erin  | November 30, 2005; 5:27 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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The zoo has hated "Butterstick" -- the people's choice -- from day one. Screw 'em. Everyone is keenly aware of how sucky a name Tai Shan is. It's a constant reminder that in less than three years the Stick will be surrendered to his communist overlords. Assuming the zoo hasn't killed him first, of course.

Posted by: tom | November 30, 2005 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Which only brings up the question--under what sort of reasoning are we right to surrender Butterstick in the first place? As I've heard tell, the Stick was born on American soil, and if I have a firm grasp over the American legal system, that affords him due rights as a citizen. "Tai Shan" may be the name that his communist overlords deemed appropriate for him, but Butterstick he remains for his patriotic, American followers. No appellation without representation!

Posted by: Kriston | December 1, 2005 2:18 AM | Report abuse

that's actually quite a coincidence, because I am "so over" the name Lisa!

Posted by: good job National Zoo! | December 1, 2005 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I used to worry about Frances Bean and Bobbi Kristina. Now I see it's Butterstick who truly needs our thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Chris | December 1, 2005 6:47 PM | Report abuse

In animal related news, I heard there is a new building at the Baltimore Aquarium. Any news on what it is? I'm kind of panda-d out at the moment. .

Posted by: Elizabeth | December 14, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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