MADRID’S Zoo Aquarium marked a special occasion last Thursday, September 21, as the giant panda twins, Youyou and Jiujiu, celebrated their second birthday with their favourite treat: a bamboo ice cream cake.
These well-known pandas have been a major draw for millions of visitors over the past two years and have even gained recognition on Chinese television.
Born in 2021, these two male pandas weighed a mere 150 grams at birth. Today, they tip the scales at around 70 kilograms each, nearly matching their mother, Huazuiba.
By the time they reach four years of age, they are expected to weigh approximately 400 kilograms.
Their diet primarily consists of bamboo, making up 95% of their food intake. Additionally, they enjoy carrots, apples, frozen ice, and receive some dietary supplements as part of their nutrition.
For some local park-goers, the pandas are highly recognisable, and for their caregivers, it’s easy to tell them apart, not only due to Jiujiu’s smaller nose but also because, despite being twins, their personalities differ significantly.
Alejandro Cabrera, a panda keeper at the zoo, explains that one of the twins, Jiujiu, displays a strong attachment to his mother, frequently spending a significant amount of time with her. In contrast, the other twin, Youyou, exhibits a greater inclination for adventure, often opting for independence and spending less time with his mother.
There is a possibility that these pandas may eventually be relocated to China, where they could potentially take part in the international breeding program.
Additionally, there is a chance that one or both of them could be reintroduced into the wild at Panda Valley, as indicated by Maria del Clo, another panda keeper at the zoo.
Conservation efforts for pandas are ongoing, given that there are approximately only 2,000 pandas left in the wild worldwide. The encouraging news is that panda populations are increasing, thanks to dedicated conservation initiatives both in Chengdu’s ‘Panda Valley’ and globally.
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