- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006


A 9-year-old girl yesterday was the 10 millionth visitor to the panda habitat at the National Zoo.

Emma Snyder from Windsor, Pa., who was visiting the zoo with her sister Kristie, 12, and their parents, Jan and Lisa Snyder, received a digital camera, gift bag and stuffed panda toy as a reward for her patronage.

Officials said tracking zoo visitation is an inexact science because the zoo in Rock Creek Park has several entrances and there is no admission fee. But since giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived in January 2001, the habitat has averaged 1.7 million visitors each year.

About 152,000 panda fans have flocked to the habitat each month since cub Tai Shan was born last July.

The three pandas celebrated their milestone visitor by frolicking in pools of ice provided by Pandas Unlimited, a group of 700 panda fans.

The group has donated about $4,000 to a new Giant Panda Enrichment Fund at the zoo. Money from the fund paid for the pools and the delivery of 2,000 pounds of ice.

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