Washington, D.C.'s Tai Shan and Atlanta's Mei Lan have been recalled to China (Did you know they retain inalienable ownership of all pandas, everywhere, forever?) to participate in their ancestral land's breeding program, and will leave next week.

The male Tai Shan and female Mei Lan—who have never before met—will join at Washington's Dulles International Airport for a FedEx airplane trip to China. Tai Shan will have a good-bye party with his parents and adoring public, first. (No word whether there will be cake, as there was for his fourth birthday.)

"It's like sending off your own child to college," said the president of his fan club.

Tai Shan and Mei Lan—born in 2005 and 2007, respectively—will henceforth be getting it on in Sichuan for the good of their species. Clarification: Tai Shan and Mei Lan will not be mating with each other. They are cousins. They will ride the airplane together but mate separately. Get your pandcestuous minds out of the gutter. [WashPo]