Baby panda joins celebrity list
Thailand animal lovers celebrate birth of a panda at Chiang Mai Zoo.
This has to be the Southeast Asia’s most famous zoo after global TV networks turned their lens on a remarkable new born baby; a female panda born at Chiang Mai Zoo, late May.
Mum and Dad, Lin Hui and Xuang Xuang, have lived at the northern Thailand zoo for the last six years, under a loan agreement with the Chinese Government that lasts just 10 years.
TV cameras from all major channels focused on the tiny tot made all the more famous because it was conceived by artificial insemination and marked a first for the Thai veterinarian team. Thailand joins the US and Japan as the only countries to breed pandas in captivity.
Born 27 May, after six years of almost comical efforts to get the female panda pregnant, the birth surprised even zoo officials. It turned out to be the month’s good new story rising above the usual negative news that swamps TV viewers.
It was all the more fascinating in the context of past efforts by zoo officials to get the two Chinese pandas to mate naturally. Zoo keepers arranged a mock wedding and even showed them porn movies of other pandas mating. It was a dismal failure, until medical science came to the rescue.
Overnight, the baby was a world celebrity and the only sad note was news that within two years the baby panda would have to return to its homeland.
The panda family is the biggest draw at Chiang Mai Zoo, earning a treasure chest in gate fees that have reached an astronomical figure. You would have to be a football star to attract a fan club of the size the panda family has drawn to the zoo.
Tourists and residents flock to this northern zoo to watch these rare creatures in their posh quarters.
Leading the family’s admirers, Thailand’s Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjaijiva, says he will check out if China might be prepared to relax regulations and allow the baby to stay beyond the two years stated in the loan contract.
If successful, the baby could possibly remain with mum and dad until their stay in Thailand concludes in another four years.
While sensitive talks between PMs unfold the zoo is planning to celebrate the panda’s birth in style.
Thousands of visitors are expected to visit the zoo just to see this tiny tot a rare site for travellers interested in these cute and iconic creatures.
Since the grown-up pandas arrived, the zoo’s gate rose to around 3,000 visitors on a weekend. But there is a good deal more to see at this zoo. It is credited with being probably the best in the country and even has a night safari zoo.
There are various activities arranged by the zoo to attract visitors. This month, 12 to 21 June the zoo hosts the World Animal Art and Photo Gallery, that encourages visitors and residents to enter their favourite animal photos in a contest. They have to depict animals smiling, not an easy task if the subject is a crocodile. In addition, the zoo features a water colour painting workshop; rare animal photo auction, finger paint, photo fair and gallery.