China reserve shows off 10 panda cubs to mark Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year
Participants take part in a flame-breathing lion dance during the Lunar New Year celebrations in the Chinatown area of Yangon, Myanmar

Ten panda cubs in China’s leading reserve have made their public debut to mark the coming Lunar New Year.

The pandas, who range in age from four to six months, put in their appearance in a playground at the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Panda in the country’s southwest Sichuan province.

The black-and-white fluffballs were adorned with Lunar New Year decorations including lanterns, traditional Chinese knots, paper cars and flags.

One appeared shy and covered its face with both paws when it saw the crowd, while another went rogue and crawled away from its keeper before being caught.

Their keepers, some holding pandas, shouted: “Newborn baby pandas from the class of 2020 … wish you a happy New Year and lots of good luck in the Year of the Ox.”

Bamboo baskets of treats had been prepared for the pandas, with the Chinese character “fu”, meaning good fortune and blessings, written on the outside.

This mimics the Chinese tradition of adults giving red envelopes with money inside to children during the Lunar New Year to pass them good wishes and blessings.

Instead of money, the baby pandas received snacks. Some of them were curious about the baskets, while others were distracted by the toys and decorations nearby.

As of December, there were 44 panda cubs worldwide, with more than half bred in China.

The centre said that the cubs making their public debut on Wednesday had all resulted from natural mating.

The country has prided itself on its efforts to preserve a species that was endangered for many years. Pandas are also a symbol of China and part of its cultural diplomacy.

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