How much do you know about pandas and the National Zoo's giant panda cub Tai Shan? Take this quiz and test your knowledge of Tai Shan, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.
The cub's name, "Tai Shan," means "peaceful mountain." In accordance with Chinese tradition, Tai Shan was named in a ceremony on Oct. 17, when he was 100 days old. His name was chosen via poll by over 200,000 visitors to the National Zoo's Web site.
At birth Tai Shan weighed just 1/900th of his mother's weight! He weighed three to five ounces and was about the size of a stick of butter. You can watch Tai Shan’s birth footage on the Animal Planet special, <i>A Panda Is Born</i>.
According to the National Zoo's Web site, panda experts have observed panda mothers in the wild go as long as a month without eating or drinking. During the first three to four weeks of a newborn cub's life, the mother stays in constant contact with her cub, keeping him warm and suckling him often. She also licks her cub frequently, to stimulate elimination and to clean the baby panda.
Tian Tian is not involved in the care of his cub. It is possible that in the wild, a father and baby panda would never encounter one another. The zoo has no plans to reintroduce Tian Tian and Mei Xiang until Tai Shan is 18 months to 2 years old, and there are no plans to introduce the cub to his father, though it may happen after Tai Shan is weaned.
Mei Xiang will nurse Tai Shan for at least a year and possibly longer. Tai Shan mimics his mother by mouthing and chewing on bamboo, but he is not eating anything other than his mother's milk, yet. He could start eating solid food at 6 months.
According to the National Zoo's Web site, "A giant panda’s digestive system is more similar to that of a carnivore than an herbivore, and so much of what is eaten is passed as waste. To make up for the inefficient digestion, a panda needs to consume a comparatively large amount of food -- from 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo each day -- to get all its nutrients. To obtain this much food means that a panda must spend 10 to 16 hours a day foraging and eating. The rest of its time is spent mostly sleeping and resting."
It is hard to tell the pandas apart, but they do have different markings. Specifically, Tian Tian has black markings on his feet that look like knee socks, whereas Mei Xiang's resemble stockings. Also, Mei Xiang has a pale black bar across her nose, and Tian Tian has two black dots across the bridge of his nose. Plus, Tian Tian weighs about 40 pounds more than Mei Xiang.