Panda Cubs on Two Continents Unveiled to Public on Same Day

By ABC News

Jan 6, 2014 12:30pm

ABC News’ Eliza Murphy and Abby Phillip report:

Panda cubs made their debuts today on two continents, but the reaction was the same in any language. A lot of “oohs” and “ahhs.”

In Taiwan, little Yung Zai, a 6-month-old giant panda, was first introduced to her admiring public at the Taipei Zoo.

Despite sleeping 20 hours a day, the playful panda put on quite a show for her long lines of visitors, entertaining guests by climbing and hanging from fake trees in her enclosure for about 40 minutes before retreating back to her mother to take a much-needed nap.

“Her muscles are getting stronger and stronger,” Taipei Zoo spokesman, Chao Ming-chieh, explained. “It is no problem for her to crawl up and down the structure. But whenever her activity slows down, then she is telling you that she needs a nap.”

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Yung Zai was overcome with adoring fans passing in front of her exhibit at a rate of about 40 people per minute.

The zoo says it is able to accommodate about 19,000 visitors a day for the loveable panda, who was born on July 6 to mother, Yuan Yuan, and father, Tuan Tuan.

“She brings us joy and happiness,” the Deputy Secretary General of Taipei City Government, Wu Kuo-Ann, said. “Our society needs this kind of friendly and warm atmosphere.”

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And in Washington, D.C. baby giant panda Bao Bao is only 136 days old (4.5  months), but she made her big media debut this morning at the National Zoo.

Crawling—and sometimes tumbling—around in her den, Bao Bao has only recently mastered moving around and climbing on the rocks in her enclosure.

At 16.9 pounds, she is growing and learning fast. And already some personality is beginning to shine through.

“She’s very chill like her dad,” said Laurie Thompson, a biologist at the National Zoo. “Tian Tian is a very laid back animal, not too much bothers him. So I’m hoping that she takes after him.”

Bao Bao is old enough to crawl around and play with her mother Mei Xiang. She can make noises and calls to her mother.

But she’s still a little shy and she sleeps more than half the day, zoo officials tell ABC.

Her caretakers at the zoo have already started training her to respond to her name and respond to commands in preparation for her Jan. 18 public debut.

“Hopefully by then she’ll be even more mobile and hopefully following her mom outside,” Thompson said. “Then we’ll start to see her make some attempts at tree climbing and maybe even playing with some of the surroundings out there be because that’s all very new for her she hasn’t seen grass or trees yet.”

“So she’ll probably be interested in checking all of that stuff out.”

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