Friday, November 04, 2005

Feel Good Friday 

A "Peaceful Mountain" moves.
The National Zoo's baby giant panda has taken his first steps and the zoo released video of the milestone.

Tai Shan, whose name means "peaceful mountain," is almost 4-months-old, weighs 15.5 pounds and measures 27.1 inches from head to tail.

Mother Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian are on loan from China. The National Zoo will rear the panda until he is 2, when he'll be sent to China.

Outsiders will get their first peek at Tai Shan next week.

The zoo began distributing 600 timed-entry tickets at 9 a.m. Tuesday to members of its booster organization, Friends of the National Zoo. They were all taken by 1 p.m., a spokesman for the organization told The Washington Post.

Ticket holders will get to see the panda cub on 11 dates, starting Monday and running through early December. The zoo was to make tickets for an additional three days of viewing available to FONZ members on the Web site starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The organization has about 80,000 members.

Tai Shan is expected to make his official public debut in early December, though no date has been set. The zoo hopes to start issuing free timed-entry tickets this month, on its Web site, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Officials believe the FONZ membership viewing will help the cub, his mother, and zoo staff get used to having crowds parade through the Panda House, which has been closed since the cub's birth.

The zoo last month began letting small groups of employees, donors and VIPs view the cub for brief periods.


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