Giant Panda Tai Shan Gets Good-Bye Party

In this photograph provided by the National Zoo, Tai Shan, the National Zoos giant panda cub, plays in a tree at his home at the zoo Friday, June 9, 2006. The cub turns one year old Sunday, July 9. AP/Smithsonian, Ann Batdorf

The Friends of the National Zoo will host a "Farewell to Tai Shan" party at the end of the month before the 4-year-old giant panda is sent to China.

The group announced Thursday that it will hold the goodbye party in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 30. Zoo officials said in December that Tai Shan will be leaving under an agreement with the Chinese government.

The agreement that brought Tai Shan's mother, Mei Xiang, and father, Tian Tian, to the zoo calls for any panda offspring to be returned to China for breeding.

A zoo spokeswoman says the event will be the main public farewell for Tai Shan. Panda fans will be able to write goodbye cards, and experts will be on hand. It's not clear, though, what day Tai Shan will depart.
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