Taipei City Zoo yesterday signed a memorandum with the Panda Protection and Research Center of China’s Sichuan Province to boost cooperation to help pandas Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓) begin mating and have a baby as soon as July next year.
Zhang Hemin (張和民), director of the center and also dubbed the “Father of Pandas,” said Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan have been in good care since they arrived at Taipei Zoo in December 2008, adding that their physical condition was good enough for them to conceive a cub next spring.
The two giant pandas weigh about 120kg each and will be six years old next year. Although Yuan Yuan, the female panda, became sexually mature this year, the pair did not successfully mate because they were adapting to a new environment, Zhang said.
“The center has successfully bred 145 pandas in the past 20 years and pandas can mate until they are 20 years old. We are not worried about the pair’s mating. The zoo should be worried about whether it has enough space to take care of baby pandas,” he said yesterday after a memorandum-signing ceremony at the zoo.
The ceremony was presided over by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌). Sichuan Province’s Communist Party secretary Liu Qibao (劉奇葆) and a delegation participated in the ceremony after a tour of the zoo.
“Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan are an important token for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations ... The two pandas came to Taipei carrying Sichuan people’s deep affection and hopefully we will see baby pandas at the zoo soon,” Liu said.
The city government and the zoo strengthened security in the panda hall yesterday to welcome Liu and the delegation. The tight security sparked protests from journalists as they were banned from taking pictures in the hall.