Chinese experts moved by panda family reunion


TAIPE — The most rewarding part of nursing Taipei Zoo’s giant panda cub, nicknamed “Yuanzai,” was seeing her interact with her mother after weeks of separation, Chinese panda expert Dong Li said Monday.

Dong and another panda nursing and breeding expert from China, Wei Ming, shared their experience with local media for the first time after arriving in Taiwan last month to help deliver and look after the cub. Caring for the cub required round-the-clock work which was exhausting but fulfilling, the experts said. To keep a close watch on the cub, Wei spent every night sleeping in the monitoring room since Yuanzai’s birth on July 6, he told reporters. The job was tough for Wei, even with his experience of nursing 100 cubs in the past decade, because Yuanzai incurred a cut to her thigh as her mother, Yuan Yuan, picked her up in her mouth right after the cub’s birth.

But now, the 44-day-old Yuanzai has grown from her birth weight of 183.4 grams to a current weight of over two kilograms. “I was deeply, deeply moved,” Dong said about the zookeepers’first attempts to introduce mother and daughter through the bars of azoo enclosure. Footage of the touching moment shows Yuan Yuan licking her cub and making a grunting noise that zookeepers said they had never heard from the mother.

Zoo officials thanked the two for their work, noting that Dongmade a great contribution by predicting Yuan Yuan’s delivery datedespite the team’s inability to conduct ultrasound analysis because the pregnant panda was not cooperative.

The baby panda, which has been a big sensation in Taiwan, was born after four years of artificial insemination attempts using sperm from the only other giant panda at the zoo, Tuan Tuan. The pair of giant pandas was given to Taiwan four years ago by China to symbolize warming bilateral ties.