Ever since his birth at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park on July 9, 2005, Tai Shan has been a source of fascination for panda lovers, who watched him as an infant for hours via live footage on the Internet, courtesy of the National Zoo.
Now, thanks to a joint effort by explore.org, Pandas International and the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, fans of the 7-year-old can watch him via webcam in his current home at the Bifengxia Panda Base in Sichuan, China.
During the month of July, viewers also can contribute to efforts in China to replant a field of bamboo, the staple of pandas' diets, by "liking" or "sharing" the link to Tai Shan's live stream on social media. For each "like" or "share" in July, explore.org will donate $1, up to $500,000, to replanting efforts.
Although Tai Shan was not the first panda born in the United States, he was the first cub at the National Zoo to survive beyond a few days. The successful births are only a small part of U.S. efforts to help China save giant pandas, according to a fact sheet from the National Zoo. U.S. scientists have been working in China since 1996 to assist Chinese colleagues in improving the health and reproductive success of giant pandas in Chinese breeding centers and to help save the species in the wild. Currently, there are approximately 1,600 pandas in the wild and roughly 300 in zoos and breeding centers worldwide.
Four U.S. cities exhibit giant pandas: Washington, San Diego, Atlanta and Memphis, Tennessee. Each of the zoos pays $1 million a year to China to help giant panda conservation efforts in return for the loan of a breeding pair to exhibit. If a panda couple produces a cub, the host zoo also gives China a one-time fee of $600,000 to keep the cub until it turns 2 years old, after which it is sent to China.
Above, a July 10 screenshot from the video feed of Tai Shan in his enclosure at the Bifengxia Panda Base.
Here is the link to Tai Shan's live stream.