Beloved panda Tai Shan has been out of sight for going on two years, but he is never far from our minds. So we thought we would give you one of the most interesting updates that we’ve seen yet: Tai Shan is starting a training regimen to prepare for mating season.
According to China Today, most giant pandas held in captivity don’t have the strength to hold their bodies up for mating. So keepers at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda have been putting Tai Shan through some exercises to enhance his physique.
“Tai Shan is able to stand [on his] hind legs as long as three minutes now, which is the minimum time for pandas' mating,” Tai Shan’s keeper Yang Haidi told China Today.
And experts say they expect him to become even stronger. Keepers are placing Tai Shan’s food at higher levels so he has to stand to eat and have built some exercise facilities in his yard. Some female pandas have also moved into a nearby habitat in preparation for a meeting (and hopefully some matchmaking) next year.
It’s hard to believe, but it was February of last year when little “Butterstick” left D.C. to head back to China.