The giant pandas received a rockstar welcome at their new China home. Now Tai Shan has a whole entourage of zoologists, vets and nutritionists. And he’s eating well too -- a buffet of fresh bamboo all for him.
Now it’s time for the young bachelor to start a new generation of “little Tai Shans” at the Bifengxia Panda Base. Tai Shan and Mei Lan are back in China for a special breeding mission. Tai Shan’s grandfather, Pan Pan, is the breeding program’s star; he has produced more than 100 offspring in his 24 years, the Washington Post reports.
Tai Shan won’t be put into the center’s breeding program right away because the success rate is higher when males are 6 1/2 to 7 years old, making 2012 the ideal year. But he will start psychological training, researchers said.
In the meantime, Tai Shan gets to watch sex education videos on how to mate. Plus, he’ll get to hear tapes of female pandas calling for males, hoping to give him more luck with the ladies.
The match.com process is a bit easier for Mei Lan. She’s going to the Chengdu Research Base. They’re asking the public to choose Mei Lan’s “boyfriend” among profiles of male pandas posted online.
Oh, and if you think that rockstar status for Tai Shan's going to last, think again. The Post said Chinese officials believe that Tai will have to adjust to being just one of the pandas. So no blue M&M requests backstage for this American icon.
China has long used pandas as a friendly gesture in diplomacy. About 1,600 pandas live in the wild, and another 290 are in captive-breeding programs worldwide, mainly in China.