Those two numbers refer to the dates when Fu Wa and Feng Yi made their public debut in July 2014. Two dates? Yes, one official and the other unofficial.
I always thought I didn’t know about the unofficial debut until I got to the panda complex the following morning. But checking back on my journal, I found this:
“I was told it would be on 27 June, two days after the opening of the Giant Panda Conservation Centre. Then I was told it would be on the 28th.
I was there bright and early on the 28th for their public debut. Only to be told actually there were visitors the previous day – 737, according to Dr Naim.”
So I knew about it and had decided not to be there on that date. The story I’ve always told about the public debut is this: the Zoo told the media it would be on the 28th, some newspapers printed it in the 27 June 2014 edition of their papers, some readers misread the date and showed up at the panda complex that morning, and since they were already there, the Zoo decided to let them in. As I was to learn the next day, as recorded in my journal, 737 visitors saw Fu Wa and Feng Yi on that day.
I wasn’t there so I don’t have any photos from their unofficial public debut. I do have photos from 28 June 2014, as well as photos from both 27 and 28 June 2015. 300+ days between the first and second set of photos. They – especially Fu Wa! – remain as curious of visitors now as then, and visitors continue to be likewise. Can we say “mutual fascination”?
28 June 2014
Fu Wa looking at visitors looking at him
Still looking …
In the early days, visitors saw a lot of this
They also saw this
A year on, they continue to enthrall the visitors, and me!
27 June 2015 (“Unofficial” first anniversary)
A rare moment with Fu Wa in his pool
Feng Yi on the move
28 June 2015 (“Official” first anniversary)
What I saw when I got there in the morning …
Feng Yi enjoying her breakfast
Fu Wa enjoying some sun
And in the late afternoon …
Fu Wa a little groggy from his long afternoon nap
Feng Yi was more cheerful after her long nap
Next Post: I will share some of my favourite photographs from the past year.