Tian Tian (male giant panda)

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Tian Tian
Tian Tian at Smithsonian's National Zoo Feb 2022.jpg
Tian Tian at the Smithsonian National Zoo in February 2022.
Species Giant panda ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca )
Born (1997-08-27) August 27, 1997 (age 25)
Wenchuan County, Sichuan, China
Nation from China
Owner Government of China
Residence National Zoo, Washington, DC
Weight275 lb (125 kg)

Tian Tian (Chinese :添添; pinyin :Tiān Tiān; lit. 'More and More') is a 275-pound male giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. The panda was born on August 27, 1997, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, to Yong Ba (mother) and Pan Pan (father). Tian Tian is the half-brother of Bai Yun, formerly at the San Diego Zoo.


Giant pandas are thought to be solitary creatures, except for mating season and mothers with young cubs. Tian generally spends his time alone, except for brief periods during breeding season. Tian is able to see Mei Xiang, and any cub with her, through some mesh windows in the exhibit. Male giant pandas play no part in raising their young in the wild. Tian and Mei are trained to participate in a full medical examination, including a blood draw, without anesthesia. The giant pandas enter a special squeeze cage with small openings and follow keeper instructions getting a food reward for participating. [1]


Tian Tian at the Smithsonian National Zoo in February 2008. Giant Panda at the zoo.jpg
Tian Tian at the Smithsonian National Zoo in February 2008.
Tian Tian at the Smithsonian National Zoo in November 2017. Tian Tian Taking A Drink -- Giant Male Panda at the National Zoo Washington (DC) November 2017.jpg
Tian Tian at the Smithsonian National Zoo in November 2017.

Tian Tian is a father by artificial insemination only. While he and Mei Xiang have been given multiple opportunities to mate naturally—and both are interested in doing so—they have never achieved the positioning correct. This is a problem with giant pandas born in captivity. In the summer of 2005, Mei gave birth to a male cub, Tai Shan, on July 9. [2] [3] In keeping with the agreement made at the time Tian Tian and Mei Xiang arrived in the United States, Tai Shan left the National Zoo on February 4, 2010 to return to his ancestral homeland in China. He flew there on the same flight as his cousin Mei Lan, who was born at Zoo Atlanta.

Some of Tian Tian's semen was preserved cryogenically, and used when Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated in 2012. Mei Xiang gave birth to a female cub on the night of September 16th of that year. [4] The unnamed cub died of liver failure at a week old.

On August 23, 2013, Mei Xiang delivered a female cub who was later named Bao Bao. Her name was selected by the public and given on her 100th day of life. Approximately 23 hours after Bao Bao's birth, Mei Xiang delivered a second cub, also female, who was stillborn. Bao Bao lived at the National Zoo until February 21, 2017, to return to her ancestral homeland in China.

Tian Tian has been confirmed through genetic testing to be the father of two cubs, both male, born to Mei Xiang on August 22, 2015. One of the cubs was named Bei Bei by Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan, the wives of the then American and Chinese presidents. The second cub died at 4 days old and was not named. Bei Bei lived at the National Zoo until November 19, 2019 to return to his ancestral homeland in China.

On August 21, 2020, another male cub named Xiao Qi Ji was born to Mei Xiang. [5]

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The National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution and does not charge admission. Founded in 1889, its mission is to "provide engaging experiences with animals and create and share knowledge to save wildlife and habitats".

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mei Xiang</span> Female giant panda

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mei Lan</span>

Mei Lan is a male giant panda. He was born at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia on September 6, 2006, after his mother's, Lun Lun, record-setting 35-hour labor. Originally identified by zoo staffers as female, Mei Lan was determined to be male by staff in China at the Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding. He is the first offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang, who are also the parents of Xi Lan, Po, and two pairs of twins, namely Mei Lun and Mei Huan, and Ya Lun and Xi Lun. Mei Lan was relocated to Chengdu, China on February 4, 2010.

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Bai Yun was the first female giant panda who was born at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in China. From September 1996 she lived at the San Diego Zoo for more than 20 years, until being returned to China in May 2019. Bai Yun gave birth to her sixth cub in 2012 since arriving at the San Diego Zoo, considered the most surviving pandas born at a breeding facility outside of native China. Bai Yun returned to China with her last-born as the 23-year conservation loan of the pandas came to an end between China and San Diego Zoo Global.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bao Bao</span> Female giant panda (born 2013)

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tian Tian (female giant panda)</span> Female giant panda

Tian Tian is a female panda born on 24 August 2003 at the Beijing Zoo from mother Niu Niu and father Ying Ying, and currently resident at Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland. She arrived in Edinburgh in December 2011 together with a male panda named Yáng Guāng. Currently they are the only two pandas in the United Kingdom. They are on a 10-year loan from the Bifengxia Breeding Centre in China at a cost of £640,000 per year.

As of 2019, there are 27 zoos in 21 countries outside of mainland China that have giant pandas. These zoos have contracts with China to house these pandas for a few years. An exception are the four pandas held at Taipei Zoo, which are owned by the Taiwanese government. Giant pandas are on the IUCN Red List so part of the reason these contracts exist between China and international zoos is to try to help the species reproduce before they are brought back to their native land. For this reason, pandas are treated very well.

Tiantian or Tian Tian may refer to:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bei Bei</span> Giant panda at the US National Zoo

Bei Bei is a male giant panda cub who was born and lived at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in the United States. He was part of US-China relations panda diplomacy, and was sent to the People's Republic of China on November 19, 2019 at the age of 4. He is currently at the Ya’an Bifengxia Base of the Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center in southwest Sichuan province. He is the brother of Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Xiao Qi Ji.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lisa Marie Stevens</span> Curator

Lisa Marie Stevens is the former senior curator for mammals, and managed both the giant panda program and the primate program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo. She worked at the National Zoo from 1978 to her retirement in 2011. She managed the National Zoo’s panda breeding program as early as 1987, but rose to national prominence following the birth of panda cub Tai Shan in 2005.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Xiao Qi Ji</span> Panda cub born at National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

Xiao Qi Ji is a male giant panda cub who was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. on 21 August 2020. The fourth surviving cub of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, Xiao Qi Ji is a result of an artificial insemination of Mei Xiang on March 22, 2020. Xiao Qi Ji is the youngest brother of Tai Shan, Bao Bao and Bei Bei.


  1. "Learning From Panda Play", Animal Planet, Robin M. Bennefield
  2. Giant Pandas - National Zoo| FONZ
  3. "If Tian Tian the giant panda had thoughts about fatherhood", The Washington Post, John Kelly, February 4, 2010
  4. Ruane, Michael E. (17 September 2012). "National Zoo welcomes baby panda". The Washington Post . Washington, D.C.
  5. Khalil, Ashraf (2020-08-23). "'The whole world celebrates' birth of panda cub". News & Observer via Associated Press.