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Your morning adorable: Giant panda or bear-shaped sled? You be the judge

February 3, 2010 | 11:54 am

Mei Xiang, the National Zoo's giant panda, is the mother of soon-to-depart Tai Shan

Tai Shan, the giant panda born in Washington, D.C.'s National Zoo in 2005, is scheduled to be transported to China on Thursday. Tai Shan's parents are on loan to the zoo from China, and the arrangement stipulates that any offspring produced by the pair while in the U.S. belong to China and must be returned to become part of the country's conservation breeding program.  (The zoo even held a going-away party for Tai Shan late last month.)

Perhaps Tai Shan's mother, Mei Xiang (above), isn't aware that her son is leaving. Perhaps she knows that she'll be joining him in China soon (she and Tai Shan's father, Tian Tian, are expected to leave the National Zoo and return to their home country in December). Or perhaps she's attempting to forget her sorrows with a nice romp in the snow. (We suspect the former, but who are we to guess at a panda's motivations?)

Whatever the case may be, Mei Xiang certainly seemed to enjoy turning herself into a panda-shaped cannonball as she rolled down a snowy hill Wednesday morning.

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

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