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Butter Balls: Photos of Playful Pandas

Panda's First Snow

Mei Xiang, an 10-year-old female giant panda rolls down the snow-covered hill at the National Zoo's Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat on Jan. 27, 2009

(Image credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Mei Xiang, an 10-year-old female giant panda rolls down the snow-covered hill at the National Zoo's Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat on Jan. 27, 2009

Fun in the Snow

Tai Shan (tie-SHON) was born at 3:41 a.m. July 9, 2005, weighing only a few ounces at birth. The first cub for mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), he was conceived through artificial insemination March 11, 2005, in a proce

(Image credit: Ann Batdorf/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Tai Shan (tie-SHON) was born at 3:41 a.m. July 9, 2005, weighing only a few ounces at birth. The first cub for mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), he was conceived through artificial insemination March 11, 2005, in a procedure performed by National Zoo scientists and veterinarians. He marked the first surviving giant panda cub born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Uh-Oh!

Tai Shan rolls down the snow-covered hill at the National Zoo's Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat on Jan. 27, 2009.

(Image credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Tai Shan rolls down the snow-covered hill at the National Zoo's Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat on Jan. 27, 2009.

Me Sleepy

All that playing and Tai Shan, shown here on Jan. 27, 2009, looks a wee-bit tired.

(Image credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

All that playing and Tai Shan, shown here on Jan. 27, 2009, looks a wee-bit tired.

Pandas in Fall

Three-year-old giant panda Tai Shan poses on a fallen tree in his exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat on November 7, 2008

(Image credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Three-year-old giant panda Tai Shan poses on a fallen tree in his exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat on Nov. 7, 2008. Fall is a great time to see the pandas. Keepers have noted that on the cool mornings, the pandas are beginning to climb and play in the trees. In the summer, heat and humidity cause the pandas to keep cool by spending more time relaxing in cooled dens and grottos.

Me and Mama

Tai Shan with his mama Mei Xiang (may-SHONG).

(Image credit: Jessie Cohen/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Tai Shan with his mama Mei Xiang (may-SHONG).

Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Giant Panda Turns Four

He may not have blown out any candles, but Washington’s famous giant panda off-spring, Tai Shan, officially celebrated his fourth birthday with singing, guests and a massive, three-tiered veggie-sicle cake.

(Image credit: Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

He may not have blown out any candles, but Washington’s famous giant panda off-spring, Tai Shan, officially celebrated his fourth birthday with singing, guests and a massive, three-tiered veggie-sicle cake.

Panda Friends

Pandas come together for breeding only once a year, but are otherwise solitary animals in the wild. The Smithsonian's National Zoo keeps giant pandas Mei Xiang (L) and Tian Tian apart all year, except for during the one day a year when Mei goes into estru

(Image credit: Ann Batdorf, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Pandas come together for breeding only once a year, but are otherwise solitary animals in the wild. The Smithsonian's National Zoo keeps giant pandas Mei Xiang (L) and Tian Tian apart all year, except for during the one day a year when Mei goes into estrus.

Baby Panda

Tai Shan was born at 3:41 a.m. July 9, 2005, weighing only a few ounces at birth. The first cub for mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), he was conceived through artificial insemination March 11, 2005, in a procedure perfor

(Image credit: Jessie Cohen/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Tai Shan was born at 3:41 a.m. July 9, 2005, weighing only a few ounces at birth. The first cub for mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), he was conceived through artificial insemination March 11, 2005, in a procedure performed by National Zoo scientists and veterinarians.

Panda Doctor Visit

The National Zoo's Chief Veterinarian Dr. Suzan Murray, Curator of Primates and Giant Pandas Lisa Stevens and animal keeper Nicole Meese conducted a health exam on Tai Shan when he was a cub in 2005.

(Image credit: Jessie Cohen/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

The National Zoo's Chief Veterinarian Dr. Suzan Murray, Curator of Primates and Giant Pandas Lisa Stevens and animal keeper Nicole Meese conducted a health exam on Tai Shan when he was a cub in 2005.

Tai Shan

Tai Shan, the first surviving giant panda cub born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, was sent to The People’s Republic of China in 2010, as stipulated in the agreement between the Zoo and the Chinese government.

(Image credit: Jessie Cohen/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Tai Shan, the first surviving giant panda cub born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, was sent to The People’s Republic of China in 2010, as stipulated in the agreement between the Zoo and the Chinese government.