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Posted at 2:53 PM ET, 01/27/2010

Tai Shan heads to panda base in China mountains

By Washington Post editors

The National Zoo announced Wednesday that the exact destination next week for its departing giant panda, Tai Shan, will be the Bifengxia Panda Base just outside the city of Ya’an, in the mountains of south-central China.

The base was opened to the public in 2003 in a region of the country that is a traditional home to pandas and is somewhat similar to the mountainous Appalachian areas of southwestern North Carolina. The base is said to have a panda hospital, breeding center and 68 resident pandas. Several pandas were evacuated there for safety after the 2008 earthquake in China.

Tai Shan, who was born at the National Zoo in 2005, is technically Chinese property, according to an agreement that brought his parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, to the zoo in 2000. The four-year-old panda, who will enter a breeding program, is scheduled to fly to China Feb. 4 after a week of official and unofficial farewells.

A big goodbye party is set for Saturday at the zoo. The last day of public viewing is Feb. 3.

-- Michael E. Ruane

By Washington Post editors  | January 27, 2010; 2:53 PM ET
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