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National Zoo Holds Panda Party

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China Daily

The National Zoo held a panda party for its most prominent residents Thursday, celebrating the birthdays of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

Mei Xiang, the female, turned 4 on July 22, and Tian Tian will turn 5 on Aug 27. The zoo picked a date in between to celebrate their birthday.

"Today we're really celebrating all giant panda birthdays," zoo director Lucy Spelman said. "Today is about our giant pandas here and what we've learned about them in the past year and a half, what we will continue to learn about them and how it applies to the wild giant panda population."

As thousands of guests ate slices of a cake decorated with bamboo and replicas of the pandas, Mei Xiang lapped at a block of ice with fruit in the middle. Tian Tian took a nap in his air conditioned grotto and was to have his frozen treat after he awoke, Spelman said.

Both pandas were born at a China research and conservation center dedicated to studying the Giant Panda. They came to the U.S. in December 2000 and are on loan for 10 years to the zoo, which will pay the Chinese government $10 million in return. They are the zoo's second pair of pandas, replacing Ling-Ling, who died in 1992 and Hsing-Hsing, who died in 1999.

The pandas lived together at first but were separated following their first breeding season in May. The 262-pound Tian Tian had become too aggressive in his play with the 217-pound Mei Xiang, and zoo officials feared he might hurt her.

They were kept apart while curators studied the pandas' behavior, although they could see and smell each other. They were reunited on July 25, when it became apparent that the two wanted to be together and could play acceptably. (来源:专业英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

"They are much more calm and adult like in their play, right now," Spelman said. "It's not the chirping, rambunctious play that they did when they first arrived."

Scientists hope that their second mating season will be more successful than the first.

"Both of them are going through puberty right now and are just reaching maturity," panda curator Lisa Stevens said.

There's a good chance the two will mate next year, Spelman said. However, scientists realize successful reproduction would be a long shot. No giant panda cub born at the National Zoo has ever survived longer than a few hours.

"We're not in a particular rush. They're still young," Spelman said.

旅美 "国宝"生日宴会唱主角

8月1日,美国国家动物园里举行了一场别开生面的生日派对,派对的主角是动物园里两位最为尊贵的成员,他们就是来自中国的大熊猫"梅香"和"天天"。

梅香是一只雌性大熊猫,到7月22日已经满四岁了,她的同伴天天是一只雄性熊猫,到8月27日就要满5岁了。动物园的工作人员挑选了他们生日的一个中间日子--8月1日,在这一天为他们庆祝生日。

动物园园长露西·斯佩尔曼说:"今天我们在这里为所有的大熊猫庆祝生日。今天是属于梅香和天天的好日子。在过去的一年半时间里,我们已经对他们有所了解,今后还将继续增进对他们的了解,以此致力于对野生大熊猫家族的研究。"

斯佩尔曼介绍说,在生日宴会当天,数千名游客共同分享了一块巨型蛋糕,蛋糕上面不仅有竹子点缀,还有栩栩如生的熊猫造型呢。梅香喜滋滋地舔食着一块中间放有水果的冰块。可是天天却躲在装有空调的房间里美美地睡午觉去了,睡醒之后自然也会有一顿冰镇地美味佳肴等着他。

梅香和天天都出生在中国大熊猫研究保护中心,该中心一直致力于对大熊猫的研究工作。2000年12月他们远渡重洋来到美国,根据中美双方达成的租借协议,他们将在国家动物园度过为期十年的"旅美生活",同时美方还将为此向中国政府支付1000万美元。梅香和天天是第二对旅居该动物园的大熊猫,在此之前,另外一对来自中国的大熊猫"玲玲"和"星星"不幸分别于1992年和1999年死去。

到来之初,两只熊猫同居一室。不过,体重262磅的天天在和只有217磅重的梅香玩耍时总是表现的过于"蛮横无理",于是出于对梅香的安全考虑,五月份他们的首次交配期一结束,工作人员让他们"分居"了。

即使馆长为研究工作而来,他们依旧要分居两室,当然,他们看得到彼此,也能闻到对方的气味。不过,他们终于在7月25号团聚了,看得出他们都愿意厮守一处,能够融洽相处。

据斯佩尔曼介绍说:"现在两只熊猫玩耍时比以前平和了,行为举止也成熟了许多。他们现在已经不像刚开始见面那会儿,总是冲着对方乱叫,或者在玩耍时动作粗暴。"

研究人员希望梅香和天天的第二次交配比起前一次更为成功。

熊猫馆馆长莉萨·史蒂文斯说:"两只熊猫马上就要由青春期进入成年期了。"

斯佩尔曼认为,明年是两只熊猫交配的绝佳时机。然而,研究人员却对明年这对熊猫能否成功繁育后代表示怀疑,认为到时还是要靠运气。以往的资料显示,美国国家动物园中所诞生的大熊猫幼崽迄今还没有哪只活过几个小时,最终都夭折了。

不过斯佩尔曼表示:"我们不是特别着急,毕竟他们还都很年轻。"

 
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