It's said that you can't go home again, but tell that to giant pandas. The adorable and enormous black-and-white bears hail from China, and while they might travel to distant places to be admired by zoo visitors, only one place is home: China. Since the Cold War, China has "loaned" pandas all around the world as goodwill gestures -- "panda diplomacy," it's commonly called -- but they are all expected to be returned, along with their offspring. Take Tai Shan, for example. Born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 2005, the giant panda was the star attraction there until he turned four years old. At that point, China wanted him back for breeding purposes. And how does a giant panda travel? Like his parents before him, who were brought to the United States in 2000, Tai Shan stepped into a large steel crate and was placed on a Boeing 777 freighter for his 14.5-hour flight to China. For the record, the giant panda is one of two national symbols of China. The other is the far more menacing dragon.
Portrait of a giant panda:
- Giant pandas might look cuddly, but keep in mind that an adult can weigh 100 pounds (45 kg) and stand 5 feet (1.5 m) tall.
- Giant pandas aren't always black and white; most are born pink-colored, without fur, and blind.
- Bamboo is pretty much the only food giant pandas eat and the bears can devour 22 pounds (10 kg) of it in a single day.