Tai Shan Reveals a New Skill

Tai Shan the panda -- so cute and widely beloved during his early years at the Washington National Zoo, now a lumbering near-adult recently dispatched to his ancestral homeland -- has just come out of a one-month quarantine period in China and is prepared to begin his new life. Below, with his new best friend, trainer Wu Daifu:


In conformance with stereotypes of superior study-skills of those in Chinese academic institutions, Tai Shan has already mastered one of the trickier dialects of spoken Chinese --  the regional style of Sichuan, in which several tones are reversed from standard Mandarin. That's hard, Tai Shan! The Chinese panda-news bulletin informs us about his other achievements:
Now, "Taishan" can not only understood Sichuan dialect, but also communicate with the keeper by eye contacts, even can do something like standing, squatting, and sitting down as guided by the keeper....

The animal keeper begins its feeding with much love. He will train "Taishan" when feeding, guiding him to make different positions in whistles as well as by gestures. Currently, "Taishan" can cooperate very well under the keeper's instructions, and also can be proceeded with the routine physical examination like phlebotomizing and B Ultrasonic scanning.

"Taishan" has a strong adaptability, gentle personality and good mental state. Its appetite is also great, especially like eating bamboo and wowotou (a kind of steamed corn bread), and conserves a decent style when eating. He's such a courteous gentleman.
This last observation will make all Americans, the virtual parents of Tai Shan, especially proud. More Chinese accounts of his progress here and here. A amazingly charming two-minute Chinese-language video of Tai Shan's emergence from quarantine is here. It includes an interview with Dr. Tang Chunxiang, whom I wrote about here, saying that everything is going well for Tai Shan on his return to his homeland.

Tai Shan-like, I too am emerging from quarantine and will attempt to contribute once more to the Atlantic's website.
For the record: The Chinese word for giant panda, 熊貓 or xiong mao, means "bear - cat." Thanks to M. Griffith for Tai Shan tips.
Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.


How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In