Pandas doing well in new digs

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – They were your tired, your hungry, your huddled pandas yearning to be fed.

The black-and-white creatures – Mei Xiang, a 2-year-old female, and Tian Tian, a 3-year-old male – arrived at the National Zoo and made straight for some waiting bamboo, then for each other.

“They’re eating nose to nose,” said Benjamin Beck, the zoo’s associate director.

The fact the pandas – creatures not exactly known for friendliness – were so playful, and after a 17-hour flight, made for much gleeful discussion among zoo staff members.

“They touched each other!” marveled spokesman Robert Hoage.

The pandas were sped to the zoo in a truck, under police escort. The original plan was to coax them into separate compartments of their newly renovated home and observe them for two days before bringing them together.

But the smooth flight on a specially equipped FedEx jet dubbed “Panda One,” and the easy landing, led to a decision to allow them to lodge together immediately.

The pandas showed signs of fatigue, and were expected to bed down within a couple of hours of their arrival at the zoo, an arm of the Smithsonian Institution.

Much was also made of the fact that the pandas were the first ever to munch on a locally cultivated bamboo instead of the imported arrow bamboo they relish.

“She came right in and grabbed a piece of Washington bamboo and started working on it,” Beck said. “Seamless!”

Only about 1,000 pandas remain in the wild, mostly in western and central China. Five other pandas live in U.S. zoos – two in Atlanta and three in San Diego.

The pandas are not old enough to produce offspring, but zoo officials are hoping they eventually will mate. Any offspring would belong to the Chinese government.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

Ashley Morrison, left, and her mother Cindi Morrison. (Photo provided by Cindi Morrison)
Everett’s ‘Oldest Young Cat Lady’ legacy continues after death

On social media, Ashley Morrison, 31, formed a worldwide community to talk about cats and mental health. Her mom wants to keep it going.

Most Read