Wednesday, April 25, 2007

From China With Love: Tai Shan Staying Put

· Tai Shan and National Zoo visitors got an early birthday present yesterday.

The 125-pound, black-and-white tourist magnet was supposed to be sent to China after his second birthday this July. But yesterday the zoo announced that the popular panda will be staying for two more years. China's ambassador, Zhou Wenzhong, called the cub "an envoy of goodwill from the Chinese people."

More than 2 million people have visted Tai Shan since his first public appearance in December 2005. And the zoo's panda Web site has drawn about 1 million visits each month since his birth.

The cub once known as Butterstick celebrated the news by happily chomping on a frozen treat.

Isn't He Lovely?

· He drools. His teeth stick out. He attacks noisy appliances. And now he's a beauty-contest winner.

Three-year-old Riggs has won the annual Beautiful Bulldog contest, which kicks off the Drake Relays, a well-known track-and-field event in Iowa.

Among the 49 bulldogs Riggs defeated was last year's winner, Hannah, who snarled at him as he plodded down the runway.

Watch Out, Superman!

· Geologists in Serbia have found a mineral that's a close chemical match to the fictional kryptonite of comic-book and movie fame.

The new mineral contains most of the elements found in kryptonite, based on a formula in a Superman movie. But unlike the fictional space rock that harms Superman, the newly discovered mineral is white, not green, and contains no fluorine.

The material is being named jadarite and will be displayed today at a museum in London, England.

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