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October 15, 2006|By [LORI SEARS]

National Zoo's Asia Trail

If you've yet to see the panda cub Tai Shan (and his parents Mei Xiang and Tian Tian) at the National Zoo in Washington, this week would be an ideal time to make the visit. Tuesday marks the grand opening of the zoo's new Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat and Asia Trail.

At the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat, visitors will be able to view the pandas playing, climbing and relaxing in an area that mimics the terrain of their native China. The new habitat adds more than 12,000 square feet to the panda exhibit and features pools and streams, rocks, shrubs and trees, a water-cooled grotto and a fog grove. Visitors can see maps, videos, photos and more at various displays.

The habitat is part of the 6-acre Asia Trail, the new, expanded home to seven species - giant pandas, red pandas, sloth bears, Asian small-clawed otters, fishing cats, Japanese giant salamanders and clouded leopards.

The opening celebration takes place 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. Tuesday. The first 200 visitors to the zoo will receive Asia Trail animal flags. The celebration continues Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with talks from zookeepers, exhibit developers and scientists. The first 500 visitors to the zoo Saturday will receive an Asia Trail animal card at each of the species' exhibits.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is at 3001 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Washington. Free admission. Call 202-633-1000 or go to fonz.org/asiatrail.htm.

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