Thousands of excited visitors
flocked Saturday to a zoo in northern Thailand for the first public
viewing of a baby panda, which has been featured on Thai front
pages almost every day since her birth six weeks ago.
The coming-out party at the Chiang Mai Zoo included a parade led
by an orangutan. Zoo officials stood beside the cub's incubator and
tried to position her head so visitors streaming past could get a
The baby panda is tiny enough to be held in the hands of a zoo
Thais have been captivated by the cub since her birth May 27.
For six years, the zoo had tried to mate its two adult pandas, both
on loan from China. They held a mock wedding for the pair, showed
the male, Chuang Chuang, "porn" videos of pandas mating, and
finally turned to artificial insemination.
Newspapers have reported the baby panda's milestones and the
public's reaction, including a giant cake measuring 4 feet by 5
feet (1.2 meters by 1.6 meters) donated by a Chiang Mai bakery to
celebrate her one-month birthday. Some Chiang Mai hotels are
offering special "meet the panda" rates for the next few months.
A public competition to name the cub drew more than a
half-million entries, which have been whittled down to four
finalists. The name will be chosen next month.
Thailand has joined a select list of countries that have bred
the rare mammals in captivity, along with China, Japan and the U.S.