Amid the latest frenzy over the panda cub Yuan Zai (圓仔), the Taipei Zoo said yesterday that the cub has opened her eyes as she continues to grow.
The public will be able to see the one-month-old panda for the first time by the end of this year, it added.
In the latest video posted online, the cub’s eyes were half open.
Chang Chih-hua (張志華), chief of the zoo’s Panda Reproduction center, said the cub’s eyes will be fully open in a day or two. The cub will develop her hearing ability fully when she is about two months old and will be able to walk around at about three months old.
The zoo plans to let the public meet the cub at the end of this year when she is at least five months old, he said.
Since the reunion between Yuan Zai and her mother, Yuan Yuan (圓圓), last week, zookeepers are allowing Yuan Yuan to spend more time with her cub under a plan to have her take care of Yuan Zai full-time eventually.
The zoo took the cub away from its mother a few days after it was born on July 7 after Yuan Yuan slightly injured the cub’s leg.
Before placing Yuan Zai in the same room with her mother, Chang said the zoo had put a panda toy with the cub’s excrement smeared on it to let Yuan Yuan get used to her cub’s smell, while stimulating her mothering instinct.
The zoo’s YouTube videos featuring the panda cub’s reunion with her mother attracted more than 50,000 hits, but the zoo itself has failed to attract more visitors, with the number of visitors dropping from 3.6 million in 2009, when Yuan Yuan and Tuan Tuan (團團) arrived, to 2.9 million last year.
The zoo was also accused of manipulating the news about the panda cub by claiming on Monday that it was still evaluating the timing for reuniting Yuan Yuan with the cub, but released a video the next day confirming that the two had already spent five hours together on Aug. 9.
Chang said the zoo worked hard to make the cub’s growth public every day.