Panda Birth Sparks Cautious Celebration

The birth of a giant panda is a major event in any zoo, especially a European one - not for twenty-five years has a successful birth occurred. Indeed, even in the wild, it is estimated that only 1600 pandas roam the forests of today's China.

And so it was with delight that Vienna Tiergarten announced yesterday a new arrival in the zoo's panda family. The three inch nipper was sired by Long Hui with his mate Yang Yang. And although the keepers had had their fingers crossed, they weren't even sure that Yang Yang was expecting (consecutive ultrasound scans had failed to deliver concrete results).

Pandas are famously disinclined to mate in captivity, and it is not since 1982 that a panda was born in a European zoo - in that case Madrid. Yang Yang has reportedly accepted her newborn - the first key step. But celebration remains cautious, as 40% of panda cubs do not survive their first year.

Finally - as we're sure you're all wondering - what's the little chappie called? Well, as it goes there may have to be a little wait for that info. The truth is, we don't know whether he's a chappie or a lassie - it normally takes three months before the sex of a cub can be determined. But never fear, as soon as the news is announced we'll put you in the picture.


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