The Taipei Zoo celebrated its 99th anniversary yesterday and presented an honorary citizen’s card to the zoo’s star animal — baby panda Yuan Zai (圓仔).
Yuan Zai, the first cub of the giant panda couple Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓), is 112 days old and has yet to appear in public.
Taipei Zoo spokesman Chang Chi-hua (張志華) said the zoo will launch a real-time online streaming service by the end of this month for the public to view the cub before her public appearance in January.
The zoo also concluded a naming activity for the baby panda and announced that the nickname given by the zoo, Yuan Zai, would be her official name, as 60 percent of the 75,000 people who voted chose that name.
In presenting the citizen card to a Yuan Zai doll at the celebration ceremony, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said he hoped the popularity of the panda cub would raise public awareness about wildlife preservation.
“Yuan Zai is under great care by zookeepers, and she will meet her fans soon. In the meantime, we hope her popularity will make more people aware about animal protection and preservation,” he said.
Separately, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said that the birth of the panda cub in Taipei was an achievement in cross-strait relations.
Wu, who was attending an annual KMT forum with the Chinese Communist Party, invited Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) to visit Yuan Zai in Taipei.
Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were selected from 23 panda cubs early in 2006 by China as a “gift” to Taiwan following the meeting between former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and then-Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in 2005. The pair arrived at the Taipei Zoo in 2008.
The zoo will be able to keep Yuan Zai in Taipei because Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were a gift from China.