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Giant Panda “Yuan Zai” Becomes Spokesperson for Taiwanese Street Foods on Her 7th Birthday!

The Giant Panda “Yuan Zai” has turned 7! This was a particularly special birthday for “Yuan Zai” as her birthday wish this year was wanting to become an older sister! The wish has now come true at last. The Giant Panda keepers are running on their feet every day looking after the newborn baby and her mother “Yuan Yuan” Nevertheless, they insisted on preparing a little surprise for “Yuan Zai” on July 6th for her birthday. The keepers designed a cake based on seven types of Taiwanese street foods and presented it to “Yuan Zai” at eleven this morning. As all her fans watched and sent her their best wishes, “Yuan Zai” dug into this unique birthday gift and made a new wish: “I hope the baby Giant Panda can grow up healthy and happy, join her elder sister in becoming the spokespeople for wildlife conservation and mobilize more people to join in protecting planet Earth!”

The Giant Panda “Yuan Zai” celebrated her 7th birthday today (7/6). Today also coincided with the Giant Panda House’s monthly closure so it was not open to visitors. Nearly a hundred fans were invited by the Zoo to attend “Yuan Zai’s 7th Birthday - Fan Birthday Party and Press Conference.”. Together, they joined the birthday girl “Yuan Zai” in sampling her special cake inspired by 7 types of Taiwanese street foods: stinky tofu, sausage with sticky rice, pearl milk tea (bamboo leaf flavor), meat buns, candied hawthorn, shaved ice and tapioca balls.

The Giant Panda keepers combined their creativity and imagination with ingredients from the pandas’ everyday menu to create a birthday cake for “Yuan Zai” inspired by seven types of Taiwanese street foods. Cornmeal steamed buns were kneaded into the shape of toasted stinky tofu from Shenkeng, while a carrot was substituted for the sausage in sausage with sticky rice. For pearl milk tea, a Taiwanese beverage that has taken the world by storm, the keepers carved the glass out of ice, substituted grapes and mixed fruit pudding for tapioca and coconut jelly, and included a large drinking straw made from a section of sugar cane. Voilà, a cool refreshing beverage for the Giant Pandas!

Since she started living on her own in January 2015, “Yuan Zai” has wished every year that her mother “Yuan Yuan” could have another baby panda so that she could become an elder sister instead of an only child. A second Giant Panda baby finally arrived this year after more than five years of effort from the Taipei Zoo employees and the Giant Panda medical team. Even as “Yuan Zai” celebrated her 7th birthday, she also made a new birthday wish: for the new baby panda to grow up soon and return to the embrace of her mother “Yuan Yuan.” The hard-working keepers can then finally have a respite and catch up on much needed sleep.

The newborn panda seemed to hear the heartfelt plea of her elder sister “Yuan Zai” while vigorously nursing every day. To keep up with the baby’s appetite, her “Daddy” and “Mommy” teams had to redouble their milking and feeding efforts. The routine is demanding, but seeing the baby panda grow bigger every day made it all the worthwhile.

Taipei Zoo hosted a live stream on its Facebook fan page at 11 AM this morning so that more people could give “Yuan Zai” their birthday well-wishes. The stream was also repeated on Chunghwa Telecom’s MOD service to give everyone the opportunity to see “Yuan Zai” enjoy her birthday cake. Don't forget to tune in!