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A Day at the Zoo

If it’s been a while since you have visited the Chiang Mai Zoo, here’s what’s new with the residents. Currently, the most popular animals appreciated by visitors in the Chiang Mai Zoo are the pandas, the koala cub (or joey) and penguins plus the newest resident, the white lion.

According to the Zoo Director Mr. Tanapat Pongpumarn the female panda, Lin Hui, is 70% certain to be pregnant judging from her behavior such as her growling has changed to sounding more like a goat. A female panda is fertile only three days per month. It’s possible to implement artificial insemination if natural method fails. The Chiang Mai Zoo is now building an ice hill playground for the pandas. It will be the best environment for Lin Hui to raise her baby. A special nursery room will also be built and finished by January 2009.

At the moment another facility is under construction which wil be the aquarium scheduled for opening in mid year 2008 now about 70% completed. It will house both salt water and fresh water fish. Most well known of the salt water fish to be displayed are sea sharks while in the fresh water aquarium the massive pla buek from the Mae Khong River. These are so fascinating for western visitors to the zoo. The aquarium will be similar to popular “underwater world theme parks”. The two types of water will be separated by acrylic panel divider. The sea water will have the largest area about 120 meters in length. The completion date will be in November 2008.

The most recent arrival to the Chiang Mai Zoo is the white lion which came before Songkran 2008. The young koala is popular with visitors. Adult koalas can mate easily. According to the web koalas are on the endangered list so the more born the better. There is a competition for the public to submit a name for the koala cub. Another competition for students is a photo competition. The subject is the koala mother posing with the cub so find out more about the competition and take photos youngsters.

During school break there are many families and children visiting the Chiang Mai Zoo. Western guests also visit the zoo in the rainy green season. Another popular time of year for visitors is the winter in Chiang Mai being a great fresh scented time to walk through the zoo’s spacious hillside setting.

It’s important for visitors to be in good behavior when visiting the pandas and all animals. Be mindful the animal residents do not like to be startled or hollered at. Photos can be taken but do not use the flash and remain calm around the animals.

Another expert concerned about the animals, is Dr. Kannikar Minutrakul, the veterinary assigned to the watch over the health of the pandas. She said the successful mating of the pandas would be a record first for Thailand. The pandas arrived in Chiangmai four years ago in October 2004 to a big fanfare. As of April 2008, Lin Hui is six years old and weighs 106 to 110 kgs an acceptable range for the female’s statistics. Chu Chuang is seven years old male and weighs 135 kgs that’s considerably overweight and his weight should be on the average of 120 kgs.

This is the second year of mating preparation. The zoo attentive staff look after the female panda 24 hours a day. She has been given hormones but the staff had not observed any changes in April 2008. No signs of successful mating from February to present and May is the last mating month this year. One problem is the male is overweight and has no interest in mating. The scent has been made stronger. The panda couple should be naturally ready and can mate at four years of age. They were born in captivity and having not lived in the wild may be another reason the mating instinct has not developed. Last year, artificial insemination took place one time and sperm was saved for introduction this year. The attendants must observe any changes and take action within 20 days of ovulation. It maybe she does not have eggs. The pandas living in Japan are not mating. It is very hot here in Thailand so it’s possible to have heat stress. The pandas now reside in separate locations. Everyone around the pandas must stay alert. They watch the bamboo diet of the male and encourages him to exercise by doing sit ups. The male is a fast eater. During the mating season they can become violent with each other. The Chinese specialists advised to watch the weather temperature. When the pandas feel it is summer, they should sit in direct sunlight.

When she ovulates, the pandas have short time within days to complete successful mating. The public should be aware of their strange goat-like sound and that the pandas become aggressive. As usual no flash will be allowed for photo taking. Lin Hui will be assigned to private restful quarters.

The Chiang Mai Zoo is one of the treasures of northern Thailand. Make it a place for your family to learn about the animal kingdom.


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