Panda Twins Are Top Attraction at Vienna Zoo

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The Giant Panda twins at Schönbrunn Zoo are now five-months-old!

The popular brother and sister were born to mom, Yang Yang, on August 7, 2016. In early November, around 12,000 fans of Tiergarten Schönbrunn’s Panda twins cast online votes for names for the wiggly duo.

The male cub was given the name Fu Ban, which translates to “Happy Companion, Happy Half”. The name Fu Feng was given to the female and stands for “phoenix” (which together with the dragon forms the imperial couple in Chinese mythology).

Currently, the Panda House is the Zoo’s number one attraction. Visitors can’t seem to get enough of the fuzzy siblings, and the most asked question at the facility is: “What is the best time to see the Panda twins?”

The answer is however not simple. “Typical for all kinds of young animals, the little ones don’t yet have a daily rhythm. Their day consists of playing, being fed, exploring their surroundings and of course lots of sleeping. When they want to sleep, they both withdraw into their cozy tree hollow, where they can`t be seen,” says zoo director Dagmar Schratter.

Mother Yang Yang always keeps a close eye on her young ones. This is very necessary, as Fu Feng and Fu Ban are full of curiosity as they explore their surroundings.

The siblings are now making their first attempts at climbing, playing with balls, and gnawing on bamboo canes. If they get too boisterous, or when it’s time to be fed, Yan Yan keeps them in-check and carries them by the scruff of the neck to a suitable place.

The zoo is extremely pleased by their development: Fu Ban, the young male currently weighs seven kilos (15.4 lbs.), and his sister Fu Feng weighs more than nine kilos (20 lbs.), which well above average for this age.

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4_Pandas_TGS_Zupanc_09Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) also known as “panda bear” or simply “panda, is a bear native to south central China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda’s diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The Giant Panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring provinces (Shaanxi and Gansu). As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins in about half of pregnancies, and generally, only one twin will survive. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. Experts believe that the mother is unable to produce enough milk for two cubs, since she does not store fat. (The father has no part in helping raise the cub.)

When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless, weighing only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces). It nurses from its mother’s breast six to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub’s skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub’s fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother’s saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub’s fur is fully developed. Its fur is very soft and coarsens with age.

The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 80 days of age. The cubs can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother’s milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant Panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.

More pics below the fold!

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