Saturday, September 20, 2008

East Coast Adventure, Part 3B: National Zoo/Pandas

I love pandas. I can't explain it. I don't think it has to do with my heritage, because that's the wrong country. They're just incredibly adorable creatures and the fact that not every zoo has them is quite appealing. They just look so cuddly, especially when they're younger.

So when I made my plans for my East Coast Adventure, I knew I had to make plans to go see the pandas. My hosts weren't too keen on pandas, so I was planning on going with a friend/colleague who had moved out to the DC area. However, our trip did not work out as planned - an unforeseen mishap caused a detour in our plans - and I did not go. Therefore, the following day, I was quite determined to make a visit and see the pandas I so desperately wanted to see.

That determination made for a very interesting morning and I learned that persistence does pay off, even if it sucks getting there. Apparently, pandas are early risers. They'd already been up and were back asleep by the time I got there. There were two gals there who are apparently the BIGGEST fans of the baby panda, and they were just as determined as I was to see Tai Shan up and awake. They definitely made for interesting company.

We amused ourselves by pointing out a slumbering Tai Shan who was asleep on a grate so close to the wall that you could barely see him to passersby. It was really great to see the excitement on faces both old and young.

After several hours, Tai Shan rewarded our patience by getting up, meandering over to a limb, posing for some pictures and just being his cute panda self. After a little while, it was time for him to go to the indoors part of his home/exhibit while the keepers put out new tasty bamboo delights and other things in the main area.

This was well worth it because he was up close and personal, save for the sometimes dirty glass. But he really doesn't mind the audience when he's chowing down bamboo at a great rate. He also has this great ball (not unlike one that we have for our dogs) that dispenses treats when rolled around through various holes.

I spent a good amount of time taking many many pictures of this not-so-tiny panda bear. He looks almost full grown by himself, but I'm sure if I saw him next to his mom or dad, then I'd think otherwise. The mom was hiding the entire time, getting over a psuedopregnancy and dad was entertaining us by either being passed out in his grotto up front or passed out in his bamboo in the back.

I took tons of pictures (several hundreds) while I managed to whittle down to a respectable 94. I posted about a third of that to flickr which I hope you'll take a look at. All but two of them are of Tia Shan.

Here are some of my favorites:

Tian Tian passed out after consuming too much bamboo

Tian Tian - Passed Out From All The Food

Tai Shan after getting up from his nap

Strolling Panda

Close-up on Tai Shan

Looking At Me

Making a Face


Believe it or not, I think I'm all caught up on those pictures. Now I need to catch up on several other posts... especially before I start work next week! Stay tuned!

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