Taipei panda gives birth
Taipei Zoo welcomed a new member in its giant panda family last night as giant panda Yuan Yuan (圓圓) gave birth at 8:05pm. The panda cub is the first to be born in captivity in Taiwan. The zoo could not confirm the sex of the baby because Yuan Yuan held the cub to her chest immediately after the birth. Yuan Yuan has shown signs of pregnancy since June 12, such as poor appetite, sleeping for long hours and restlessness, and the zoo kept her from appearing at the exhibition hall in preparation for the birth, the zoo said. While Yuan Yuan began to create a nest on June 28, she resisted ultrasound scans, and so the zoo was not able to confirm her pregnancy. The zoo said it would release more details about the panda cub today. The zoo helped Yuan Yuan conceive via artificial insemination in March, and while the gestation period for a panda is between four and five months, it is difficult to confirm a panda’s pregnancy until two weeks before it gives birth because the fetus is so small, the zoo said. Since Yuan Yuan and male panda Tuan Tuan (團團) were donated by China in 2008, the zoo has made several failed attempts to have them mate or get Yuan Yuan pregnant via artificial insemination.
Flight prices may rise 20%
The price of domestic air tickets will increase by up to 20 percent amid rising fuel prices, industry insiders predicted yesterday. However, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) declined to comment, saying only that fuel prices account for between 20 percent and 30 percent of air travel costs. In April, a new pricing formula was proposed to counter increasing losses among domestic airline operators, and air ticket prices were expected to increase by between 6 percent and 35 percent from October. The proposal met with public discontent. The CAA then decided not to adopt the new formula, but promised to factor fuel prices into its calculations. Domestic flight ticket prices have not changed over the past eight years and adjustments should be made to reflect rising fuel prices, which have more than doubled during that period, the CAA said. Domestic airline operators suffered combined losses of about NT$600 million (US$20 million) last year due to rising costs, with fuel prices reaching NT$27.95 per liter, compared with NT$13.64 per liter in 2004, the regulator said.
Comfort women exhibit opens
A “Taiwanese comfort women” exhibition organized by the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF) and the Tokyo-based Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace opened yesterday in Tokyo, running through June 29 next year. Cheng Chen-tao (鄭陳桃), a 92-year-old former Taiwanese comfort woman — a euphemism for sex slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II — appeared at the opening ceremony in Tokyo to tell her story in the hope of increasing awareness of the sexual slavery perpetrated by the Japanese military. Cheng said she was forced into prostitution in India when she was 19 years old and endured five years of sexual slavery, adding that during that period, she attempted suicide several times and had several abortions that rendered her infertile. Through the exhibition, the TWRF hopes Japan’s younger generation can understand the facts of history. It also wants to sternly protest against remarks distorting the historical facts related to the sex slaves.