This map shows the journey that the Panda's traveled. They started off from the Wolong Reserve by truck (a 90 mile bumpy mountain road but in their special containers) to Chengdu Airport. They were transported from the truck to the plane (A FEDEX Cargo jet plane DONATED by FedEx) for their 17 hour trip to Dulles National Airport (located in Chantilly, Va.) in their specially built containers - one stop at Anchorage, Alaska for re-fueling, changing crew, and processing through customs. At Dulles - they were met by a convoy of FedEx vehicles and police to accompany them to the Zoo. (FedEx supplied everything at no cost!) They arrived at the Zoo on December 6th at 3:00 p.m.
Oh yes! The crowds were at Dulles airport to welcome them - plus hundreds were waiting at the Zoo! No celebrities were ever given a more warmer welcome! A red carpet was not needed!
And the Panda's after this long flight? None the worse for wear - munching on bamboo, fruit and a special bread/biscuits (from China). They were not sedated and arrived very alert.
The Panda container was a joint effort involving FedEx, Chick Packaging/Bailey Machinery and The National Zoo.
After overhauling one of its cargo planes for the Panda's, FedEx turned to Chick Packaging/Bailey Machinery in Memphis to custom build two transport containers to house the Panda's during the journey. Chick Packaging/Bailey Machinery had only a few weeks to design and build the cages - based on specific requirements dictated by the National Zoo.
When cages were completed - they were sent to the Wolong Reserve, where the panda's were allowed to adjust to them before traveling.
Each cage weighs about 1,100 pounds - made from steel. The dimensions: length: 5 feet, 7 3/4 inches. Width: 3 feet 8 5/8 inches. This allowed enough space for panda's to be able to turn around in the cage. The bars at the sides of the containers allowed plenty of air movement - but the space between the bars not large enough for the panda's to get their claws stuck. No rough edges - cages were sanded and buffed inside and out. Cost per cage: $11,000.
No details were overlooked. Food, water trays made of stainless steel - slide in and out of cages. Waste Pans: Two inches deep: steel pans fit beneath each cage: can be removed and cleaned without opening the cage.
Mei Xiang (pronounced "may shONG) and Tian Tian (pronounced t-YEN-t-YEN) Mei Xiang means "beautiful fragrance" - Tian Tian means "more and more" - in their new home at the Zoo. (Photo- Jeff Tinsley-Smithsonian National Zoo)
These two Panda's are well acquainted with each other. When they are together, they swat each other playfully, roll around in the dirt together and eat peacefully side by side. You can be sure they will be able to put on a good show for their adoring audience!
In China - it was a tearful farewell. Thousands came to watch them leave. A speech was given by the director (Zhang Hemin) of Wolong's China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda. He said that he and his staff were sad to see the Panda's leave. But he also added "I also wish for them to get married as soon as possible and have many babies."
The Panda's resting in the Zoo. They will be on display to the public next week. Public is warned that the lines for viewing will be long - and to dress for the cold weather as the Panda's spend much of their time outside. (They love the cold weather!)
Photo by Jesse Cohen - Smithsonian National Zoo
Ling-Ling in March 1986.
Unlike Mei Xiang and Tian Tian - Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling were not too fond of one another. Born in the wild many miles apart - when brought together - much hostility was shown. Especially by Ling-Ling. A visitor at the zoo would find them more often than not - apart. It was rare to see them together.
These two Panda's are so much fun to watch! They are so playful! Unless they are asleep or eating - they are playing. Now that warm weather has arrived - they love their pool and a spray that throws off a mist. They could go into an air conditioned grotto - but they seem to prefer playing outside. They love their audience and perform!
Yesterday, May 3rd - 1,000,000 visitors have seen them. There will be many visitors this spring and summer - and the figure will probably pass the 2,000,000 mark!
NOTE: All photograph's (except the last one of Ling Ling) - Courtesy of The Washington Post. Most text information courtesy of the Washington Post. The Panda "bars" graciously donated and approved by Cindy: http://members.aol.com/Grumpy2nAM/graphics.htm
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