Earlier this month, nine-year old Giant Panda Yuan Yuan successfully gave birth to her baby girl, Tuan Tuan, following Taipei Zoo's seven tireless attempts to impregnate her over the past three years, the Daily Mail reports. Natural pregnancy among pandas is extremely rare, making Tuan Tuan a very special cub!
Now Tuan Tuan is growing up fast and beginning to grow her black-and-white coat, a trademark of all Giant Pandas. Giant Pandas are born looking like little pink mice, and their birth is always cause for celebration due to the rarity of the species and new cubs being born. Most baby pandas are born after their mothers are artifically inseminated, as Giant Pandas are finicky with mate selection, one reason for their dwindling population.
Visitors to the zoo won't get to see Tuan Tuan until she is at least three-months old, but the baby is growing quickly and has so far doubled in weight. To appease visitors and panda enthusiasts, the zoo has released a collection of photos for the public to enjoy, including shots of the little cub sticking out her tongue, drinking milk from a bottle and hamming it up for the camera.
Tuan Tuan was a gift to Taiwan from China, and is currently being cared for at the Taipei Zoo. Yuan Yuan and Tuan Tuan are Chinese names that together translate to "reunion." Taipei Zoo official Chao Ming-chieh told the Daily Mail that China has agreed to allow Taiwan to keep the panda cub on the island. Most pandas "loaned" to other countries from China have their cubs born abroad return to them, and many thought that China would ask the same of Taiwan.
Some politicians have even speculated that China could use its gift of the rare, endangered pandas to advance a unification agenda with the self-governed nation of Taiwan.
Currently there are only about 2,500 Giant Pandas left in the world, making them extremely endangered. Illegal fur poaching, destroyed bamboo habitats and low reproduction rates have all driven them close to extinction, though zoos around the world are fighting to preserve the species.
Click here to see photos of the adorable new panda baby Tuan Tuan hamming it up for the camera.