The Smithsonian National Zoo is paying the Chinese Panda
Conservation Center to rent two panda bears named Meixiang and Tiantian. The zoo will be renting these panda bears for ten years. From
December 2000 until December 2010 the zoo is paying the China Panda
Conservation Center ten million dollars to rent these remarkable
The Smithsonian Zoo hopes to do many things with these pandas but
mainly they want to keep the species alive.
They will try to learn their habits of eating, drinking, and
mating. The zoo built a habitat that is much like their own habitat that
is split in two. When they
grow older they will make that habitat one to encourage their mating.
Hopefully, there will be a baby panda on the way.
Mainly the zoo is trying to keep the species from extinction.
Three weeks before coming to the USA, Taintian and Mexiang were
introduced to each other. They
needed to cooperate with each other to survive the next ten years in
their habitat. Two days
before the flight, they were led into big green FedEx crates and shipped
to Beijing, China. Then
were loaded onto the FedEx plane for their long journey to Washington
travel here, the pandas were placed in two specially constructed crates.
They were accompanied by two Chinese panda experts.
They made at least one stop on the route and arrived at Dulles
international airport on Wednesday, Dec.6. From there, the pandas were
trucked to the National Zoo, where they were finally introduced to their
new home. The giant pandas
were in quarantine for 30 days to give them time to adjust to their new
home. During this period,
they were permitted outdoors with a high barrier surrounding the giant
Pandas have very interesting lives if you think of it in an
Can you believe how much they eat?
They eat 10,000 pounds of bamboo a year, that means they eat 20
to 40 pounds each and every day.
After pandas mate, it takes 95 to 160 days until the female gives birth.
Usually a panda has two cubs, but only one usually survives.
Newborn cubs only weigh 3 to 5oz. which is 1/900th the
size of it’s mother. This is the same size as a stick of butter.
When it is born it is pink, hairless, and blind.
the giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, took up residence at the
Smithsonian’s National Zoo, they lived in a newly renovated panda house
with exhibits simulating their native Chinese habitats.
The renovation to the panda house with exhibits simulating their
native Chinese habitats cost $1.8 million.
The two refurbished outdoor exhibits feature new rock and tree
structures for the giant pandas to climb, sand wallows for them to roll
and bathe in and several micro-climates.
The renovations to the 17,500 square foot exterior areas
include an air-cooled grotto and a water-cooled grotto.
Constructed of natural and imitation rock, each grotto resembles
a shallow open cave eight feet wide, four feet deep and five feet tall within a
natural rock outcropping. There
will be mist and fog areas outdoors. A grove of trees, including Sichuan species of firs, hemlocks
and shrubs, along with Chinese red cedars and dawn redwoods, provide
shade. Each exhibit
enclosure has an attached sleeping den that measures 10 feet by 12 feet.
The indoor area is climate- controlled.
Cameras mounted in the enclosures will allow remote observation
of the animals.
are three separate but connected indoor enclosures (decorated with hand
–painted murals of the central mountain ranges of China) with rocks
and pools, and two large outdoor areas with trees and rocks for
climbing. The highlight of
the outdoor habitat is a pair of cave like enclosures (open on one side
so the pandas can see visitors and vice versa) that are fully air
conditioned so that the cold weather loving pandas will come out when
the temperatures are 80 degrees and above.
The caves are near an exterior water mister and fog maker
designed to simulate the weather conditions of their native land.