Best Giant Panda

Best: Tai Shan
2nd Best: Mei Xiang
In January of this year, Mei Xiang showed signs of being in estrus. And you know what that means! More inexpert poking by the zoo’s adult male giant panda, Tian Tian. “He gave his best, as usual, but he didn’t quite get the job done,” was how the zoo’s reproductive scientist, JoGayle Howard, described the third-best panda’s attempts. So you know what that means! More artificial insemination for Mei Xiang. Now that her progeny and fading zoo star, Tai Shan, is more Dirty Butt than Butterstick, it’s Mei Xiang’s turn to shine. After all, she’s the one who must endure the zoo’s efforts to produce another heir to the bamboo throne. She’s a touch more sluggish than her famous son, who sleeps and eats in a space slightly more grand on the other side of her wall, but Mei Xiang remains a regal presence. She is the Michelle Obama of Washington’s weird panda family; she is the constant, the center, the zoo’s great black-and-white hope. Tai Shan, in other words, can suck it.