Tian Tian (t – YEN t – Yen) is the 3 year old male half of the new pair of Panda
s at National Zoological Park
, part of the Smithsonian Institution
in Washington D.C.
. Characterized by the Smithsonian magazine 1
as more “like a dog” and “upbeat, mellow, happy to see you, always eager.”
The panda couple are on loan, or rather rental from China
at the price of $1,000,000 a year. This money is supposed to fund conservation
projects for panda reserves in China.
The panda pair can be seen on the PandaCam. 2
Tian Tian (which means “more and more”) is the larger of the pair and has kidney bean –shaped black patches around his eyes.
Mei Xiang, (may sh - ONG) at 2 years of age is the smaller of the pair and has circular black patches around her eyes. She is characterized by the Smithsonian
as more “like a cat”
who “sometimes expresses interest in you, sometimes not”. Her name, Mei Xiang, means "beautiful fragrance" in Chinese. At least that is the official zoo
say on the matter. Apparently there are some semantic arguments over the pronunciation and the meaning depending upon the pronunciation 2
If any offspring are born from this pair they would belong to China although where they would reside may depend on potential genetic diversity needs of future generations because of their endangered
1}Smithsonian magazine April 2001