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Schönbrunn's panda baby celebrates birthday

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Schönbrunn's panda baby celebrates birthday
Fu Bao and his mother. Photo: APA/Gelernter
11:46 CEST+02:00
Schönbrunn Zoo's baby panda Fu Bao celebrates his first birthday on Thursday - he'll be surprised with a package of sweet potatoes and carrots.

"He may of course open it himself," said zoo director Dagmar Schratter. Any children visiting the zoo on Thursday will be given a poster of Fu Bao.

The baby panda, a firm favourite at the Vienna zoo, now weighs 20 kilograms, but is still nursed by his mother Yang Yang. He lets out a loud squeal when he’s hungry and has also started to nibble on bamboo leaves.

"He likes climbing, sleeping, drinking, eating a little bamboo - depending on how he feels every day is different," said Schratter. His keepers will be watching him on his special day to decide when he should receive his present - they won’t want to disturb his nap time.

Fu Bao has two older brothers, who now live in China. His, and his sibling’s births were the cause of great excitement as they are the only Giant Panda cubs in Europe to have been born and reared naturally.

Captive pandas often lose interest in mating, and the mortality rate for Giant Pandas is around 40 percent during their first year. Giant Pandas are a highly endangered species. There are now only around 1,600 animals living in the south west of China.

Most zoos trying to breed pandas rely on artificial insemination.

In keeping with a Chinese tradition, the cubs were named 100 days after their birth. Fu Bao means happy leopard, after his brothers who are the happy dragon and the happy tiger.

For the first few months of his life Fu Bao stayed with his mother Yang Yang in the birthing box but eventually curiosity got the better of him and he began to explore his enclosure in December.

Fu Bao will remain a Chinese citizen - China retains ownership of all the Giant Pandas around the world, which are selectively loaned to other countries. Once cubs reach four years of age, they have to be returned to China. 




 

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