Panda born at Taipei Zoo

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A panda was born at the Taipei Zoo, the home of two of the rare animals which were donated to Taiwan by China in 2008, the Taipei City Government announced Saturday.
The zoo, located in the southern suburbs of the capital, announced that the panda named Yuan Yuan gave birth to a baby panda at around 8:05 p.m. Saturday. Television stations interrupted routine news programs and coverage of the Golden Melody Awards, also in Taipei, to report on the panda birth, the first ever in Taiwan.
China first offered the gift of Tuan Tuan, the father of the newborn, and Yuan Yuan in 2005, but as relations between the two countries were at a low ebb, the move did not take place. The government of then-President Chen Shui-bian saw the gift as a propaganda move to underline Chinese designs over Taiwan, which it does not recognize as a sovereign and independent nation. Even the names of the animals had a political connotation, with the term ‘tuanyuan’ meaning ‘reunion.’ There were also doubts about the Taipei Zoo’s ability and preparedness for the reception of the delicate animals.
The government of President Ma Ying-jeou, which emphasized closer relations with Beijing, approved the transfer and the two pandas arrived in Taiwan in December 2008. Visitors to the zoo first had the opportunity to see the two rare animals during the Lunar New Year holiday in early 2009.
The move of the animals from China’s Sichuan Province to Taiwan was surrounded by issues related to sovereignty, including the question whether the trip was domestic or international.
It was not immediately known Saturday when the newborn panda would be on display and which name he would be given.