Baby panda is quite the ‘talker’

AMPANG: Malaysia’s second female panda cub is friendly, active, and quite a “talker!”

“We noticed that at around two months she was vocalising and making sounds.

“It never happened with Nuan Nuan (Malaysia’s first panda cub), ” said Zoology, Veterinary and Giant Panda Conservation Centre director Dr Mat Naim Ramli.

He said the cub makes sounds when she is touched.

“It is quite surprising. She says: ‘Shalah, shalah shalah.’ I think she is communicating with us. The bonding is there,” he said.

Dr Mat Naim showed off the video of the panda cub “talking” with a proud smile, and said that the young cub is very affectionate towards her carers.

“She is friendly. We can touch and hold her. We also noticed that she is much more active than Nuan Nuan,” he said.

The four-month-old female panda cub is Xing Xing and Liang Liang’s second offspring during their four years in Malaysia, and has yet to be named.

The second cub was born on Jan 14 this year, making it a world record of two panda cubs being born within three years of each other.

The panda pair’s firstborn Nuan Nuan was born at the national zoo on Aug 15, 2015 and has since returned to the Duijangyang panda base in Sichuan province, China.

Dr Mat Naim said the second panda cub is thriving at the Giant Panda Conservation Centre in Zoo Negara, and weighs a healthy 9kg.

He said the cub is 1kg heavier than her sister Nuan Nuan when she was the same age and attributes this to her mother’s diet.

“For the second birth, we had much more bamboo shoots, so that we can maintain her body weight at around 114kg.

“The milk production is more, contributing to the growth rate of the second baby,” he said.

Dr Mat Naim said that Liang Liang had to be hand-fed bamboo shoots after the birth.

“After she gave birth, she held the baby with both her paws, so we had to hand-feed her for about a month,” he said.

“Liang Liang is a very good mother. She is very protective.

“Most of the time, the baby is suckling very well. It means that the baby has sufficient milk.”

Dr Mat Naim added that he was pleasantly surprised to be caring for a second panda baby so soon after the birth of Nuan Nuan.

“We are very lucky. We are very happy and very excited,” he said.

“We didn’t think that we would get a baby as early as one year, and another cub in three years. It’s a world record! And it is through natural breeding,” said Dr Mat Naim.

He said that China and several other countries congratulated Zoo Negara for its success, and asked what the “secret” was.

However, Dr Mat Naim said there is no secret but rather two pandas with good chemistry.

“We have a very good male and female that accept each other. The mating happened at the right time,” he said.

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