Giant panda Tuan Tuan enjoys its "birthday cake" at Taipei Zoo in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, Aug. 30, 2019. Giant pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan celebrated their 15th birthday together on Friday. (Xinhua/Zhu Xiang)
By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua
TAIPEI, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- "Look, she's coming out!" "Wow, she's so cute!" Amid cheers from a crowd of children, giant panda Yuanyuan slowly emerged from its room at the Taipei Zoo around lunchtime Friday to meet its fans and then sat on the floor to "study" its birthday cake.
The specially made cake, with ice as its base, was decorated with seasonal fruits and vegetables such as kiwi fruits, chestnuts, pineapples and carrots, plus several ice "balloons" on bamboo sticks and a cute little panda-shaped ice sculpture.
Sugar canes were used to make the shape of the figure 15, marking the 15th birthday for Yuanyuan, and also for its partner Tuantuan, which will turn 15 two days later. The two pandas came to Taiwan at the end of 2008 as a goodwill gift from the Chinese mainland.
Yuanyuan looked at the cake for a short while before grabbing one of the bamboo sticks to eat. It also "frowned" upon the pineapple slices and threw them away. After a while, it turned the whole cake upside down and carefully picked out the pieces it likes.
Tuantuan also had its own cake in the shape of a carousel. However, Tuantuan demonstrated more calm and coolness when eating the cake.
The birthday party for Yuanyuan and Tuantuan attracted fans of different ages and nationalities who crowded the zoo's exhibition hall for giant pandas.
Some children recorded the fun moment with cameras and some sang birthday songs. "We came specially to sing birthday songs for Tuantuan and Yuanyuan," said a four-year-old boy and his younger brother from Taipei. "Happy birthday to them!"
Wang Yi-min, curator of the zoo's special exhibition hall where the pandas live, said this year's cakes for Tuantuan and Yuanyuan were designed with the idea of an amusement park.
"We hope they can be happy, just like playing in an amusement park," said Wang. "We have also added seasonal foods on the cake as special treats."
The cake was also designed with auspicious symbols to wish Yuanyuan luck in conceiving another offspring, she said.
Yuanyuan gave birth to Yuanzai, their only female cub so far, in 2013, through artificial insemination. The zoo has been attempting to assist the pair to conceive again since 2015. Yuanyuan received artificial insemination in March this year as she went into estrus.
"Tuantuan and Yuanyuan are both in good physical condition," said Wang. "Although Yuanyuan didn't get pregnant in this year's reproductive season, we will continue our efforts and hope she can succeed next spring."
Yuanzai, who turned six this July, is now ready for mating. "We have been looking for a partner for our girl," Wang said.