Himfr.com reports China gets ready for homecoming panda

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A breeding base in southwestern Sichuan province has started preparing for the return of a giant panda from the United States early next year, said provincial authorities.

Tai Shan, who was born and raised up in the National Zoo of Washington D.C., will have to spend a month in quarantine for medical inspection before joining the other pandas in the Ya'an Bifeng Gorge Breeding Base, said Li Desheng, deputy director of the management office of Wolong National Natural Reserve in Sichuan.

The date of Tai Shan's return is yet to be decided, Li said.

As for if Tai Shan will soon find a "girl friend" when back in China, Li said, "Although Tai Shan has the build of a grown-up male panda, we still have to wait for about two years before it is sexually mature."

Li is confident that the panda will find its new home comfortable. He said, "Tai Shan will soon fall in love with the climate and bamboos in Sichuan, the natural habitat of giant pandas."

Tai Shan, 4, was born on July 9, 2005. It was supposed to get back to China at the age of two. The Chinese government agreed to postpone it's return twice in 2007 and 2009 at the request of the National Zoo, where millions of people visited Tai Shan.

The staff and visitors of the National Zoo and residents of Washington, D.C. are all deeply attached to Tai Shan, said Steve Monfort, head of the Zoo.

Tai Shan's father Tian Tian, 11, and mother Mei Xiang, 10, are also due to return December next year.

A total of 13 giant pandas are now living in the United States. In addition to the three in Washington, D.C., two other giant pandas, one in Atlanta and the other in San Diego, are due to return to China next year.

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