It’s A Cat! No! It’s A Bear! – Taipei, Taiwan Trip #6

February 13, 2009 at 11:23 am | Posted in itchy backside | 1 Comment
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When we were planning our trip to Taiwan last year, news reported that China was sending two Giant Pandas to Taiwan as a friendly gesture and to forge greater link with the Mainland. Then in December, the two Giant Pandas, Tuan Tuan 团团 and Yuan Yuan 圆圆 reached Taiwan and were kept under observation for a month to adapt to the new environment. Their first public appearance was scheduled during the Chinese New Year. Our trip was planned slightly earlier than that, which meant that we would not be able to see them…. 😦 But I was still hoping that Taiwan might decide to bring them out slightly earlier if they were adapting well.

But when we were there, the local news did not report anything about the two pandas. Sigh! So we were not so fortunate to see them here in Taiwan. 😦

We went ahead to visit the Taipei Zoo anyway cos Tisu Boy wanted to see one animal that our Singapore Zoo dun have…which Itchyfingers will talk about later… 8)

We reached Taipei Zoo on a Sunday morning. The moment we alighted from our bus, we saw this on another bus….hmmm…seemed like they were all ready to welcome the stars to the zoo!

Cute pandas on bus ad

We were greeted with more pandas after we entered the zoo…

The chinese words on this banner said, “Live happily ever after!” :p

Oh my goodness! So many pandas! Cute! 😀

By the way, we did not believe our eyes when we read of the entrance fee on our travel guide. It cost only NT60 (S$2.70) for an adult! Wow Cow! Cheap like dirt as compared to our zoo’s S$18 adult ticket! :O And if you think the entrance fee is so cheap because the zoo is in some horrible condition, you are in for a big surprise! Not only it is big and well organised, it also has some of the endemic animals of Taiwan. Well, otherwise, why would you think China was willing to part with two of its national treasure – the Great Pandas?

Since I knew that I would not be able to see the two pandas in Taiwan, when we were walking around after dinner on our first night in Taipei, I bought myself a cute little panda stuff toy…

Most panda toys made them stand on fours or sit upright. But this one was
sitting with the hind legs stretched out. Cute right, so chubby….er…it cost
more than the zoo entrance fee…NT100 (S$4.50). We forgot to try to bargain..
not too sure if people bargain in shops there or not?

If you had been watching the news on the pandas, you would realise one very interesting thing about what the Taiwanese media called the pandas. ‘Panda’, as most people know it, is called ‘xiong mao’ 熊猫 (or literally, ‘bear cat’) in Mandarin. But in Taiwan, they are known as ‘mao xiong‘ 猫熊 (or literally, ‘cat bear’)! When I first heard that in the news back in Singapore, I thought the Taiwanese media were trying to be funny or calling them that as it sounded cute…then when we were at the shop looking at the toy panda, the lady also said ‘mao xiong‘ 猫熊! And then in the zoo, people also called it ‘mao xiong’!

Now, just why the difference in the name? Being Itchyfingers, I did a search.

There were a few explanation behind it. According to this site, “猫熊”意为“像猫的熊”,“熊”为主词,“猫”只是定语,它属猫熊科,而非猫科动物”. So, in short, “貓熊” (mao xiong) means “cat bear”, where bear is the base noun, which is grammatically correct.

Another explanation according to this site, “panda was named as mao xiong in 1940s by then Kuo Ming Tang government and they put down “熊猫” (xiong mao) on the labels in zoos and exibitions. At the time, traditional Chinese literatures were written or published from up to down, then from right to left. So the label should be read from right to left. (i.e.,“猫熊” mao xiong). However, 1940s was also the time for many Chinese to change the writing styles from left to right, then up to down. Since zoology was a new subject in China at the time, and most scientists were considered westernized, people took for granted that they wrote the label from left to right. Thus the name xiong mao was read and used by regular people. In 1949, the Kuo Ming Tang government lost the civil war in mainland and moved almost the entire government structure to Taiwan, and so does the official name of mao xiong. For the people who stayed in the mainland, they went for the more popular name of xiong mao.”

Interesting right? 8)

So back at the Taipei Zoo. Since we knew that we were not fated to meet the two Giant Pandas, what we could only do was to take a look at their exhibition area and took a photo…:p

The yet-to-be opened new building where the two pandas will be housed

What are these in front of the new exhibition building…?

Oh! Panda sculpture! Oh I wished I could see the face…:o

Yeah! This piece showed the face! And it had a baby in the mouth! 😀

Wow cute…

Huge signboard under testing in preparation for the expected big crowd to see
the pandas. Visitors would be given time slots to avoid overcrowding and
stressing the pandas. The sign showed the present time slot and the next one.
Wow! Only ten minutes allocated? Where got enough leh! :O 

A sign on the glass panel at the outdoor exhibit area. The pandas may be
brought outdoor only if weather is cool cos their natural habitat is around
six to 17 degree

More pandas…spreading conservation message…

Well, Itchyfingers might have missed the pair in Taiwan, but we were fortunate to see pandas in both Chiang Mai and Hong Kong.

Cute panda decor at Hong Kong Ocean Park

Two cute pandas munching on their favourite food…there were three of them
in the Ocean Park 

Their ‘dark circles’ are so serious that you sometimes can’t see the eyes…hahah
This cute panda was in Chiang Mai Zoo 

Ah….now you can see the eyes…Pandas must be one of the cutest animals
on earth! 😀

A close up of the hairy foot…:D

While it was always amazing and a great joy to be able to see these beautiful animals so close in front of us, it will definitely be even better to see them in their natural habitat. Itchyfingers really hope that with the efforts of zoos and the conservation bodies in China, the numbers of Pandas will thrive and one day we would be able to observe them in the wild, living happily ever after! 🙂

Also see related posts:
Wow Cow! Holy Cow! So Many Cows! – CowParade @ Taipei, Taiwan Trip #5
Gong Xi Fa Cai! – Taipei, Taiwan Trip #4
Holy Cow! – CowParade @ Taipei, Taiwan Trip #3
Wow Cow! – CowParade @ Taipei, Taiwan Trip #2
Buy One Get One Free! – Taipei, Taiwan Trip #1


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  1. Taiwan is going panda crazy right now! Kids love it.

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