The first panda cub in the history of the Taipei Zoo, Yuan Zai (圓仔), has attracted record crowds to the Panda Hall during her first weekend, after debuting on Monday.
Panda fans began lining up in front of the zoo from midnight on Friday, waiting to see the six-month-old cub.
A total of 19,200 visitors had been recorded by 2:30pm yesterday, the zoo said.
Taipei Zoo spokesman Chao Ming-chieh (趙明杰) said more than 1,500 visitors queued overnight on Friday, twice the average number of visitors to the hall each weekday since Yuan Zai made her first public appearance.
Greater Taichung City resident surnamed Chang (張) said she and her friends left Greater Taichung at midnight and arrived at the zoo at about 3:30am on Saturday morning because they wanted to be the first ones to see the cub.
“We heard that Yuan Zai would be awake in the morning, and we did not want to miss the chance to see her when she is most active,” she said.
Visitors crowded the display area in the hall, cheering and taking photographs as Yuan Zai was carried into the room at 9:10am by her zookeeper.
The cub climbed to a wooden platform before falling asleep, while her mother, giant panda Yuan Yuan (圓圓), was in the same room eating bamboo shoots.
Visitors who entered the Panda Hall in the early afternoon were fortunate, as this was the time Yuan Yuan was breastfeeding Yuan Zai.
Chao said the zoo would feed the panda cub carrots and cornbread when she turns eight months old.
Yuan Zai’s father, Tuan Tuan (團團), was in a separate display room at the hall.
Chao said the giant panda couple reached another breeding period this month, but the zoo is not planning a mating and breeding program this year because Yuan Yuan will need to focus her attentions on caring for the panda cub.
Yuan Zai should grow to the size of her parents by the age of four, which is the stage at which she herself can start mating, Chao said.
He reminded visitors to arrive to the Panda Hall 10 minutes ahead of the designated time on their slips.
Time spent inside the hall is being limited to 10 minutes per group.
The cub’s parents, whose names together mean “reunion” in Mandarin, were gifted to Taiwan by China in December 2008.