BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Tai Shan, the United States-born giant panda, has been in his new Chinese home for just six months, but already his keepers want him to earn his keep - by starting a family.
But first, they have to ensure that Tai Shan is fit and healthy enough to mate.
To that end, Huang Shan, Tai Shan's feeder, cuts apples into small pieces and gives them to Tai Shan only when he stands up.
"It's a good exercise because it makes his hind legs stronger," Huang said. "Pandas need strong legs to be able to mate."
And Tai Shan's new home at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda in Ya'an, Sichuan province, in Southwest China, should also be conducive to a panda's family life.
Tang Chunxiang, the center's deputy director, said Tai Shan's home covers more than 2,000 square meters and is the largest in the center.
It is in the center's "embassy area" which houses only pandas from overseas, he said, including Fu Long, another male raised in Europe but brought back to China last year.
Once Tai Shan is fully mature, probably in about a year, the center will move a female panda into his home.
"If Tai Shan accepts her, he will indicate this by growling in a special way," Huang said.
If not, Tai Shan will have many others to choose from as the center has more than 90 pandas, most of them females.
Tang said a 24-hour camera has been set up in Tai Shan's front yard to record daily life.
"Most cameras cover a few panda homes at the same time, but this one is only for Tai Shan, to record every detail of his life," he said.