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Hey, Girl, It's SF's Hottest New Celebrity

Sofia Perez | May 7, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

A crowd of camera-wielding paparazzi gathered anxiously this morning at the San Francisco Zoo to capture a candid shot of San Francisco's newest celebrity. No, not Ryan Gosling—try ten-month-old red panda Tenzing.

And as you can see from the slideshow above, the critter gives Gosling a run for his money. But it took a while to get the shots. Cameras were raised and pointed at the small doors of his sleeping den, from which Tenzing was to make his entrance. A few shutters clicked prematurely. No sign. The crowd waited silently. And waited. And waited. It was a bit like waiting for a celebrity to leave his hot dinner date so we could accost him on the sidewalk outside about the fried quail he just ate.

After a nearly thirty minute vigil, the adorably red-coated Tenzing emerged, sauntering like a cat up into his treehouse, where he remained nibbling on bamboo shoots as the crowd was overcome with camera clicks and emotions. His custom-built wooden structure is complete with ramps, bridges, and shoots of bamboo—a perch seemingly lifted from a page of Swiss Panda Robinson. The structure was built by Pete Nelson of Discovery Channel’s “Treehouse Masters” as a gift for San Francisco Zoo’s newest addition. Nelson admitted that he was surprised that the red panda was as dissimilar to a giant panda as he was, but he immediately fell in love anyway. He was excited to be building his first tree house not intended for humans.

The other big story of the day was the red panda's name, which was announced just before his debut, and which was bestowed by emeritus board member Barry Lipman and his wife Marie, who donated $31,000 for the right to christen a panda. Tenzing is named after the sherpa who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary in climbing Mt. Everest.

Honoring his namesake, Tenzing managed to climb all the way to the top of his 20-foot tall treehouse. Beat that, Gosling.

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