Thursday, February 4, 2010

Farewell Butterstick

We here in the DC area have heavy hearts this week as we say goodbye to our Panda Tai Shan. Tai Shan will be flown back to China today (by Federal Express no less).

(photo capture of a video from The Washington Post)

Tai Shan was born in 2005 at the National Zoo. They had a panda cam set up and I was a faithful follower of him for that first year. Chinese tradition dictates that 100 days have to pass before naming a panda cub. So when a caretaker at the zoo described the cub after he was born as being "about the size of a butterstick", the name Butterstick stuck as a local pet name for him.

The National Zoo had an internet poll where everyone could vote for their favorite name for the cub out of five that were approved by the Chinese government. (There was an actual write in vote for the name Butterstick, by the Chinese government did NOT approve.) Most of the names meant "magnificent warrior" or "dragon warrior", etc. Tai Shan meant "peaceful mountain" and I immediately voted for that name. I happened to be in Churchill, Manitoba watching polar bears at the time when the Zoo was going to announce the name. As soon as I got settled, I searched around town for a computer so I could find out and was thrilled they chose Tai Shan as his name.

Tai Shan's first snow in 2005

Here he is as a big boy looking like he is playing a bamboo flute in 2007.

So, farewell Butterstick. Even though you are going back to your homeland, you will always be a native DC'er. Live long and multiply.


KGMom said...

I had treated myself to a pedicure today, and as I sat enjoying the chair massage, I saw Tai Shan's departure on the tv. FedEx's specially decorated plane--and the sweet panda in his glass cage.
Farewell indeed.

Angela said...

Having been a "Butterstick" fan since his birth, with many trips to the National Zoo to see him, I am personally very sad to see him go. Yes, it is for a greater purpose, but he was so loved - so cherished here. I worry they will not love him as we do and the recent article in the Post didn't give any reassurance.

Be well sweet Tai, hopefully we will be kept up to date on your growth and your successes!