local digest

Local Digest

Friday, January 8, 2010


Panda farewell party

The Friends of the National Zoo announced Thursday that it will host a "Farewell to Tai Shan" party at the zoo from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 30.

Officials said last month that the beloved 4-year-old giant panda, who was born at the zoo in 2005, was being sent to China according to the terms of an agreement with the Chinese government, which owns all giant pandas in U.S. zoos. Giant pandas are native to China.

Word of Tai Shan's departure sparked dismay among zoo visitors and promises of extensive farewells. Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said this will be the main public farewell event. Panda experts will be on hand, and panda lovers will be able to write Tai Shan goodbye cards.

Tai Shan was originally supposed to have been turned over to China when he turned 2, but China granted an extension that expired last month.

-- Michael Ruane

Embezzlement case

A Bowie mother and daughter received federal prison time Thursday for embezzling $214,000 from a D.C. government program that pays blind vendors to work at snack bars, cafeterias and dry cleaners in federal building.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson sentenced Barbara A. Stevenson-Jones, 71, to a year and a day in federal prison. Her daughter, Pamela A. Stevenson, 51, received three years and five months.

Both were ordered to pay the D.C. government $214,026 in restitution. The women stole the money in 2003 and 2004, when their firm, Wellness & Management, had a contract with the District to handle accounting services, authorities have said.

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