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Your morning adorable: Happy birthday to Tai Shan, the National Zoo's giant panda

Giant panda Tai Shan goes after his

Tai Shan (pronounced "tie-SHON" and meaning "peaceful mountain"), a giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington, celebrates his fourth birthday today. In honor of Tai Shan's big day, zoo staff crafted him a special icy "cake" -- it's made from water, bamboo, shredded beets and beet juice. 

Tai Shan's parents are on loan to the National Zoo from China. Under an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Assn., any offspring they produce while in the U.S. belong to China. So eventually (and probably sooner rather than later), Tai Shan will have to leave the zoo. In the meantime, he's a beloved Washington figure with, we're sure, approval ratings rivaling even Michelle Obama's.

More photos of Tai Shan with his cake after the jump (and if you just can't get enough giant panda, be sure to check out the National Zoo's live panda webcam).

Giant panda Tai Shan goes after his

Giant panda Tai Shan goes after his

Giant panda Tai Shan goes after his

Giant panda Tai Shan goes after his

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photos 1-4: Alex Wong / Getty Images. Bottom photo: Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images

 
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It's really a treat to have these beautiful animals at the zoo, and a special treat when they have cubs born! Congrats to the National Zoo for this success. Other giant pandas can be seen in Memphis, Atlanta, and San Diego.

Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America's Best Zoos


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