Fu Wa and Feng Yi had mated on 7 May 2015 but the mating was not considered a success. What the mating achieved, especially the days leading up to that day, was Fu Wa learning to get into the right position to mount Feng Yi. This was important; even if the mating didn’t result in a baby this year, the chances for next year would be much better as he’d learned what to do.
At a press briefing on 11 July 2015, Dr. Mat Naim Bin Haji Ramli, Director of Zoology, Hospital & Veterinarian Services & Giant Panda Conservation Centre, had announced that there would be no panda baby for Malaysia this year. So about two weeks ago, when Feng Yi started going off her food and sleeping lots – behaviour identical to this time last year – we just thought she was experiencing a pseudopregnancy.
She’d sleep the whole day while on exhibit in her yard, and often in a corner. This afternoon, she was not in her usual corner but right beneath the bridge, when Kalai, one of the panda rangers on duty, noticed blood on her. Kalai alerted Akmal, one of the keepers. He went in to check and as he did so, a loud squawk came from somewhere on Feng Yi’s body. It was the squawk of a newborn giant panda cub. Feng Yi had given birth.
How could this be? She had not shown any signs of restlessness in recent days. She had not been building a nest, a sure sign that a baby would be born within days. She had not done any of the things a soon-to-be panda mum would do. And the birth was a real easy one, too. No pacing, no rolling on her back. What happened? A miracle. That’s what happened.
That initial squawk, and others that followed, proved that she had indeed given birth. At 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, 18 August 2015. Outside in her yard in the exhibit hall. A miracle. Our very own Malaysian giant panda miracle.
There’s more. Baby #2 was born on the second birthday of its elder brother Gong Gong. Miracle x 2.
Following the Malaysian Prime Minister’s announcement, the baby’s birth was soon on various news sites, local and international, as well as on Malaysian TV news this evening.
Welcome, little one.
That bit of pink in the centre? That’s Feng Yi’s new cubbie