By the time Fu Wa and Feng Yi made their official public debut on 28 June 2014, they’d met Zoo Negara Malaysia’s staff and families, volunteers and sponsors the Saturday before; the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s staff and families the Sunday before; and 737 early visitors the previous day. A local Chinese newspaper had printed in its 26 June edition that the Zoo’s Giant Panda Conservation Centre would be opened to the public the next day, hence those early visitors. Kudos to Zoo Negara for not turning them away.
I was at the official public debut, not as a visitor but as a member of the panda rangers, the Zoo’s group of volunteers specially tasked to help visitors at the panda centre. I was with the first group as they came into the centre, waited in the lobby, moved into the learning centre where they watched two short films and listened to a short introduction, and finally went downstairs for a briefing before walking into the exhibit hall to meet Fu Wa and Feng Yi. I went ahead of them into the hall so I could photograph this first meeting.
Here is a small photo album from their official public debut day.
The first group to enter the panda centre was small but can you sense their excitement?
While waiting, they could see the two yards on the TV
Watching a short film in the Learning Centre
One more door before entering the exhibit hall
And they’re inside, eager for their first look of the Malaysian giant pandas
Another group getting an overview of the hall from the window of the Learning Centre
One of the later groups waiting at the entrance
Visitors get their first close-up of Feng Yi who showed her back before her beautiful face!
Feng Yi taking a nap in her favourite corner
Another group into the exhibit hall got their first glimpse and it was a sleeping panda!
There were groups of schoolchildren, too, on the official first day
Feng Yi on the top level of her wooden structure – awake and curious about the visitors
Photograph of Feng Yi being photographed
Still looking at the visitors but from another part of her yard
Visitors on the bridge look at Fu Wa chomping away
Fu Wa multi-tasking – eating and looking at the visitors
Fu Wa sticks his head out and thrills his visitors with an even closer close-up
Obliging visitors to his left with a similar closer look
Taking a break from eating to pose for his new fans
All the carrot and apple slices gone, now for the big item
A quiet moment away from the fans but they found him