Malaysia-bound panda has male cub

BEIJING - The sex of Feng Yi's cub has been determined - it's a boy!

Currently residing at the Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya'an in China's Sichuan province, Feng Yi is the female panda to be loaned to Malaysia next year.

She delivered the cub at 9.20am on Aug 18 following the mating season in spring, but the keepers did not have the chance to check on the cub up close until a month later.

Yesterday, a staff member at the panda base revealed that the cub was a male.

During The Star's visit to the panda base early last month, Feng Yi's keeper Yang Changjiang said the panda was doing a great job nursing her offspring.

"She has a strong maternal instinct," he said.

The baby was mostly hidden from view at that time as it nestled under Feng Yi's left forepaw.

While Feng Yi previously did not let the cub out of her sight, she now leaves him on the floor of the indoor enclosure occasionally for short periods to attend to her own needs.

"We have taken the baby out a few times for check-ups. He weighed 1.375kg when he was one month old," a staff member said.

Meanwhile, Fu Wa, the male panda that will join Feng Yi on their 10-year overseas assignment to Malaysia, weighed 117kg in September. Both pandas are seven years old.

Requested by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in a meeting with then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the panda loan is a significant gesture to mark the 40th bilateral ties between Malaysia and China in 2014.

Zoo Negara deputy director Dr Muhammad Danial Felix had said that the pair would arrive in Malaysia latest by Jan 31.

The panda's enclosure in the zoo is about 60% completed.