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Baby-shower thrown for 1st panda born in Taiwan

Baby-shower thrown for 1st panda born in Taiwan

Sunday, August 04, 2013, 21:20 GMT+7

TAIPEI – Taipei zoo held a "baby-shower" party Sunday to celebrate the one month birthday of the first panda born in Taiwan as the cub continues to be a star attraction even though she has yet to appear in public.

Hundreds of children accompanied their parents to attend the party, during which a video featuring the baby panda's growth was screened. Guests were also invited to experience what it is like to feed a panda cub in an incubator using a replica.

The yet to be named female cub was delivered on July 7 following a series of artificial insemination sessions after her parents, known as Tuan Tuan and his partner Yuan Yuan, failed to conceive naturally.

Sunday's party copied the Taiwanese tradition where parents hold a celebration around a month after their newborns are delivered. The parents give cakes or oiled rice to friends and relatives in exchange for their blessings.

The cub, however, could not attend her own party. She has been kept away from the public's gaze with the zoo saying visitors will need to wait three months to see her.

The cub was slightly injured while being bred by her first-time mother a few days after she was born.

It is not unusual for inexperienced pandas to accidentally hurt their offspring and the cub has been taken into the care of zoo experts since the incident.

The zoo said the cub has grown to 1,140 grams (2.5 pounds), more than six times her original weight when she was delivered.

Zookeepers Sunday also kicked off a naming campaign for the cub, with the public voting on what to name her and the final result expected to be announced on October 26.

Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were given to Taiwan by China in December 2008 and have become both star attractions at Taipei Zoo as well as a symbol of the fast improving ties between Taiwan and its former bitter rival China.

The island will be allowed to keep the cub as the panda couple were a gift from China rather than a loan, Taipei officials have said.

Beijing usually only loans its pandas and any progeny must be sent back to China.

China's decision to give Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan to Taiwan was a symbolic gesture to show warming ties between the former arch enemies, governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

China, which still claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, has used so-called "panda diplomacy" worldwide since the days of the Cold War.

Fewer than 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, mainly in Sichuan province, with a further 300 in captivity around the world.



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