3-month wait for public to see first panda born in Taiwan

3-month wait for public to see first panda born in Taiwan

TAIPEI - The public will have to wait three months to catch a glimpse of the first panda born in Taiwan, officials said Sunday, a day after she was successfully delivered by parents who were gifted from China.

The female cub was delivered Saturday night following a series of artificial insemination sessions after her parents, known locally as Tuan Tuan and his partner Yuan Yuan, failed to conceive naturally.

The pair were given to Taiwan by China in December 2008 and have become both star attractions at Taipei Zoo as well as a symbol of the fast improving ties between Taiwan and its former bitter rival China.

Taipei Zoo expects the cub, who has yet been named, to set off another wave of panda mania on the island.

With the aid of Chinese experts, zookeepers arranged a series artificial insemination sessions for Yuan Yuan following a botched natural pregnancy in 2010.

But the public will have to wait some months before they can see the zoo's latest addition.

"Hopefully the cub may meet the visitors three to five months later," Taipei Zoo spokesman Chao Ming-chieh told AFP, adding that two experts from China were helping to take care of the newborn.

Taiwan will be allowed to keep the cub as the panda couple were a gift from China rather than a loan, Taipei officials have said.

Beijing usually only loans its pandas and any progeny must be sent back to China.

China's decision to give Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan to Taiwan was a symbolic gesture to show warming ties between the former arch enemies, governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

China, which still claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, has used so-called "panda diplomacy" worldwide since the days of the Cold War.

Fewer than 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, mainly in Sichuan province, with a further 300 in captivity around the world.

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