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FLORA AND FAUNA
New baby panda born at Vienna zoo
by Staff Writers
Vienna, Austria (AFP) Aug 15, 2013


Taiwan panda cub spends first night with doting mother
Taipei (AFP) Aug 15, 2013 - Taiwan's first new-born panda stayed overnight for the first time with her doting mother, zoo-keepers said Thursday, following a heartwarming reunion that took place in the international limelight.

Zoo-keepers in Taipei had to separate tiny Yuan Zai from her mother, Yuan Yuan, last month because the cub needed care and round-the-clock monitoring in an incubator after she was slightly hurt days after being born.

The first-time mother accidentally injured the cub's leg, zoo-keepers said.

The weeks-old female cub was put inside Yuan Yuan's enclosure Tuesday where the mother gently picked her up, embraced and breastfed her in a touching scene of animal affection.

Encouraged by the smooth development, keepers decided to let the mother herself take care of the cub overnight -- from late Wednesday night until early Thursday morning.

"We hope they can gradually get used to each other," a spokesman for the Taipei city zoo told reporters.

"It seemed that everything was fine."

The cub, the first panda born in Taiwan, was delivered on July 7 following a series of artificial insemination sessions after her parents -- Yuan Yuan and her partner Tuan Tuan -- failed to conceive naturally.

The birth of Yuan Zai, which means "child of Yuan Yuan", sparked great joy in Taiwan with local media carrying daily reports and photos on her growth.

The public will have to wait for at least another two months to see her.

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

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

Fewer than 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, mainly in China's Sichuan province, with a further 300 in captivity around the world. cty/pst

The Vienna zoo on Thursday made a birth announcement: Yang Yang and her mate Long Hui are the proud parents of another baby panda, the third one born of natural conception.

The newborn arrived at 12:24 Wednesday, his pink skin covered with a white down. He measures around 10 centimetres (four inches) and weighs about 100 grammes (3.5 ounces).

"No other European zoo has up to now succeeded in conceiving this animal species by natural means," the Schoenbrunn zoo said in a statement.

Other European zoos have relied on artificial insemination in efforts to propagate the endangered species. Female pandas have a very short period of fertility, just two or three days annually.

The new baby panda will remain isolated with his mother Yang Yang for several months, until the two decide themselves to leave their niche.

The zoo's director sent out a reminder of the fragility of a panda's first year of life.

"Even as we rejoice, we must remain realistic. The mortality rate for giant pandas in the first year is at 40 percent, " said Dagmar Schratter in a statement.

The first panda born of natural conception at the Vienna zoo was in 2007 and Fu Long became a major attraction, drawing thousands of visitors. Three years later his brother Fu Hu arrived, adding to the panda mania.

The two pandas left the zoo at the age of two, adhering to the contract with the Chinese authorities. In the wild, young pandas leave their parents at that age.

China is the owner of all pandas born in captivity in zoos.

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

At the Schoenbrunn zoo, the 10-year loan of Yang Yang and Long Hui ended in March but negotiations to renew the loan are nearly complete, says Europe's oldest zoo, which is located in the park of the former imperial residence.

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