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Famous panda cub makes her debut at Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo

July 7, 2009 |  5:17 pm

Panda baby

Thailand's new giant panda cub, born at the Chiang Mai Zoo in late May, made her debut to the clamoring Thai public Saturday.  Thousands of eager visitors, who'd previously only been able to see the baby on the newspaper covers she's been gracing since her birth, came to the zoo to see her in person, the Associated Press reports.

The Thai public has been so captivated with the zoo's new addition that a contest to name her drew more than 500,000 entries.  (The entries have been narrowed down to four, with a decision expected next month.) The zoo has reported skyrocketing sales of plush panda memorabilia, and the celebration of the cub's one-month birthday included a giant cake weighing over 200 pounds.  The panda hubbub has been so extreme, in fact, that some Thai elephant keepers even resorted to painting the elephants to resemble pandas.

The cub's birth came as a surprise to zoo staff, who didn't know her mother, Lin Hui, was pregnant.  (The zoo had previously spent years trying to convince Lin Hui and her male counterpart, both of whom are on loan from China, to procreate.  "They held a mock wedding for the pair, showed the male, Chuang Chuang, 'porn' videos of pandas mating, and finally turned to artificial insemination," according to the Associated Press.)  

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: The young cub sleeps next to a plush panda doll during a veterinary checkup.  Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

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