Tai-shan, a Chinese panda cub born in the US National Zoo two years ago, will stay in the country for two more years, Chinese Ambassador to US Zhou Wenzhong announced on Tuesday.
"As an envoy of good-will from the Chinese people and a symbol of friendly cooperation between China and the United States, Tai- shan will continue to bring more happiness and delight to American people, especially the Washingtonians, who care so much for him and give him so much love," Zhou said at a news conference at the National Zoo's Giant Panda Habitat.
Calling Tai-shan "the most important Washington resident," Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty announced that April 24 will become the Panda Day in the capital city.
"This is great news," cheered National Zoo Director John Berry, referring to the extension of Tai-shan's stay.
"Not only will this give us the opportunity to continue to charting his growth and development, but it also gives the pubic two more years to come visit him here at the National Zoo," he said.
"We are very grateful to the Chinese government and its people for this," said Berry.
Under the previous agreement, Tai-shan will be sent back to China as it reaches the age of two on July 9 this year.
Now under the new deal, he will stay in the National Zoo for two more years.
Tai-shan, which means "peaceful mountain" in Chinese, was born in the National Zoo on July 9, 2005 after being conceived through artificial insemination.
Its mother, Mei Xiang, and its father, Tian Tian, are on a 10- year loan from China.
Since Tai-shan's public debut in December 2005, it has attracted 2.25 million visitors who have come to the National Zoo to see him in person.
It also got many fans around the world through the zoo's giant panda web page, which draws some one million visits each month since its birth.
(Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2007)