Vienna's Baby Panda Says Hello

5-month-old Fu Long greets the crowds at last
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2008 9:03 AM CST
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, left, Chinese ambassador in Austria, Wu Ken, center, and Zoo Manager Dagmar Schratter, right, pose in front of a banner for a newborn panda bear called Fu Long,...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Vienna's newest celebrity made his debut yesterday as the 5-month-old panda Fu Long met the public for the first time. The Austrian capital's Schönbrunn Zoo had to issue a statement to anxious panda fans that the cloistered cub was healthy and growing strong. Only yesterday afternoon did Fu Long emerge to an adoring crowd, although the zoo's director told the AP that the panda is more of "a night owl."

Unlike Berlin's press-hungry polar bear Knut, Fu Long—"Lucky Dragon" in Chinese—has been shy: he snubbed the Austrian foreign minister and an entire Chinese delegation at a ceremony last month. He was conceived naturally by two pandas on loan from China and born in August, becoming the first panda born in Europe in 25 years. Fu Long now weighs in at a cuddly 16.5 pounds. (Read more panda stories.)