Home / China / Life

Public picks name of a giant panda cub

By Fu Jing in Brussels | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2016-09-18 14:12

Pairi Daiza wildlife park in Belgium to announce result of online vote on cub's 100-day celebrations

The first giant panda cub born in Belgium was to be officially named on Sept 15 as part of celebrations to mark its 100th day.

VIPs including Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan and Queen Mathilde of Belgium as well as thousands of citizens sent messages of congratulations for the big day.

Public picks name of a giant panda cub

Tania Stroobant, Belgian handler, and Wang Daifu, midwife, pose with the baby panda on Sept 9, on the 100th day since its birth. Fu Jing / China Daily

Celebrating a child's 100th day is a Chinese custom, while the event coincides with the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival.

"We're going to finalize his name on that day," says Tania Stroobant, one of the panda handlers at Pairi Daiza wildlife park in Brugelette, about 50 kilometers west of Brussels.

The zoo listed five potential names on its website and has been asking members of the public to choose their favorite.

The cub is housed with his parents, Hao Hao and Xing Hui, in the zoo's panda enclosure, which was unveiled by President Xi Jinping and King Philippe of Belgium in 2014.

Stroobant, who has worked at the zoo for 16 years, joined its panda team when the two adults arrived in 2014.

She says the team shares daily online updates about the cub, in French, English and Dutch, so fans can keep track of his progress. Highlights include his first public appearance on Aug 6.

"He's so lovely, and he's growing extremely well," says Wang Daifu, an experienced panda handler who helped deliver the cub.

The cub weighed 171 grams at birth on June 2, but today weighs 6 kg.

Wang from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan province escorted Hao Hao and Xing Hui to Belgium in 2014 and returned early this year to prepare for the birth.

He says the animals still recognize the instructions he gives in Chinese in his native Sichuan accent.

Behind the panda enclosure, which is kept permanently at 18 C, is an office with a bank of monitors that handlers use to watch the family 24/7.

Wang says the only hiccup has been the supply of bamboo shoots, which grow in Europe only between April and June. Female pandas eat shoots to produce breast milk.

To supplement supplies, the zoo makes a bread of apple and honey for the cub, he says. "When the mother's milk is insufficient, we also give him powdered formula."

After arriving in Belgium, the two adults struggled to mate naturally, so the cub was conceived through artificial insemination.

As this was also Hao Hao's first cub, Wang and Stroobant have been helping the baby during the breast feeding period, which usually lasts 18 months.

The loan agreement with China states that the cub will remain at Pairi Daiza until he is 4. The parents will return to Sichuan in 2029.

"Once the cub permanently leaves his mother, we can arrange further mating for Hao Hao," Wang says.

He says the cub is separated from his mother every day at 9 am, when he is weighed and fed. He is then returned to the cave, giving zoo visitors the chance to see him.

The family of pandas attracts many visitors to the wildlife park, with waiting time to enter the viewing area usually about an hour.

"It's so wonderful that I saw them today. It has fulfilled my dream," says Slameuldre Eliadine, who has traveled 20 km with friends to visit the wildlife park.

She has been keeping a close watch on the family through videos and updates post on the zoo's website. "For sure, I will come again."

This year, giant panda cubs were also been born in Spain and Austria, while another is expected this month at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland.

Yao Yueyang contributed to this story.

Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349