Panda cub makes first public appearance at Malaysia zoo

The new arrival shows her face at Malaysia's national zoo yesterday. She is the second cub born to Liang Liang and Xing Xing, a pair of giant pandas on loan from China. The two births are a rare success story for natural reproduction among giant pand
The new arrival shows her face at Malaysia's national zoo yesterday. She is the second cub born to Liang Liang and Xing Xing, a pair of giant pandas on loan from China. The two births are a rare success story for natural reproduction among giant pandas, which are notoriously clumsy at mating on the rare occasions they are actually in the mood.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR • A four-month-old panda cub has made her first public appearance at the Malaysian zoo where she was born, to the delight of visitors.

The fluffy little cub was the second born to Liang Liang, who has been on loan to Malaysia since 2014, along with a male panda, a rare success story for natural reproduction among giant pandas, which are notoriously clumsy at mating on the rare occasions they are actually in the mood.

The family of three were in good health, said Dr Mat Naim Ramli, director of the national zoo's panda centre outside Kuala Lumpur.

"The cub weighs 9kg. She is so cute. Her growth is quite fast and she is already able to move slowly," he told reporters yesterday.

The cub's sister Nuan Nuan was born in August 2015 and sent to China in November last year as part of Beijing's agreement with Malaysia that cubs born in captivity must go back at the age of two.

Dr Mat Naim attributed the success of having two baby pandas born in Malaysia to having a healthy pair that "are able to accept each other".

Inside a glass pen, the baby panda crawled slowly towards photographers but for most of the time was content to lie on her belly.

"I love pandas. They are so adorable. I want to cuddle the baby because it is so fluffy," said visitor Karene Lee, 25, a business consultant.

Dr Mat Naim said the only diet at the moment for the baby panda was its mother's milk.

Chinese ambassador Bai Tian said he was pleased to see the cub was "comfortable and happy".

"We will have an online competition to name the baby," he said.

Liang Liang and the male, Xing Xing, came to Malaysia on a 10-year loan. It costs zoo authorities some RM56,000 (S$19,000) a month to maintain the panda centre.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the giant panda as "vulnerable". There are an estimated 2,000 left in the wild, in central China.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 27, 2018, with the headline 'Panda cub makes first public appearance at Malaysia zoo'. Print Edition | Subscribe