Everland welcomes little ones to the park,
but these are permanent residents!
Everland Zoo, part of the Everland theme park, has seen a rush of new young ones coming to the park for the first time. These little ones rush around and play all rough and tumble, seeing the sights and smelling the scents, but there’s something different that sets them apart from other young park visitors – they never leave! Also, they’re covered in fur.
Yes, that’s right – Everland Zoo is raising baby animals! From a baby panda to a cygnet and tiger cubs, porcupettes, and a zebra foal, the animal sanctuary is brimming with new life!
Proud panda parents protect premature panda pup
First things first. The most recent baby born in Everland is one that has already made international news. A baby giant panda was born to Everland’s two panda residents on July 20, 2020, at 9:49pm. The female weighed 197 grams when born and measured only 16.5 cm long. The mother Ai-Bao and the father Le-Bao were given quite a lot of help from the zoo at each stage of the process of having the little one, as it is quite complicated and unlikely for pandas to have children.
There are two reasons to celebrate the new baby giant panda. First, she is the first panda ever born in Korea. And second, giant pandas are an endangered species, so every new one is a treasure!
In order to ensure the health of the baby, she will be isolated from the general public for about six months, living inside a special residence set up by the zoo staff to ensure the 197 gram munchkin will grow up healthy and strong. But even though we can’t see her yet, based on observation of other baby pandas, we know what to expect. By now the baby should have started growing black fur, but will not open its eyes until 45 days after it was born. At about 4 months from now she will be able to walk on all four paws on her own, and after six months, or in January of next year, she will be able to start eating her first bamboo. That is when she will probably experience her public debut. Pandas are solitary creatures, but the baby will probably live with her mother for about 1.5 to 2 years, and then wander off on her own one day. At that time she will probably weigh around 80kg, more than an average human.
Cygnet-ure of life
The two pandas are not the only couple at Everland. The zoo has also been the marital home of two swans, Nalgae and Nakdong, for almost 25 years, which is almost the entire swan lifespan. Nobody expected them to have a baby swan, or cygnet, in their old age. And yet, love and life have found a way. The swan couple hatched fuzzy gray little Mio on May 28. The baby was named Mio because, in Korean, “mi” means beauty and “o” is part of the word for duck, and the zoo staff hope that the baby becomes a beautiful duckling.
The pure white feathers and yellow bill of these graceful birds identify them as whooper swans, which are designated an endangered species and Natural Monument No. 201-2 by the Korea Ministry of Environment. These particular swans, now proud parents, were given to Everland Zoo in 1996 after they were found by a bird protection association. They had serious injuries, but were saved by the care of the facility’s veterinarians and zookeepers. They also worked to create the best and most peaceful environment for the couple, who lived in marital bliss for decades.
Everland Zoo’s staff has always hoped the swans would have a cygnet, and starting in the winter gave them special care like extra-nutritious foods and vitamins. They even provided nest-building materials like fallen leaves, silver grass, and tree branches to the couple to gently encourage them along nature’s path.
Now, zookeeper Lee Ji-yeon reports, “The mother warmly cuddles the baby and the dad vigilantly guards them, despite his disability, reminding us of how precious the family and life is.”
Tiger cubs scouting out
But Everland is also raising more babies – tiger cubs! Brother and sister tiger cubs, named Taebum and Moogoong respectively, were born this spring, February 20, at Everland Zoo, and the mother tiger is doing her best to take care of the little rascals.
In fact, the mother is finding Taebum and Moogoong to be such pawfuls that she has to step up her mothering skills to take care of them! Older brother Taebum never stops playing, but younger sister Moogoong is more contemplative. So even though she is younger, Moogoong often ends up watching her brother do the pouncing and sneaking that are essential to tiger cub life. But even though the mischievous little ones are quite a lot to handle, mother has kept them well in mouth and has been quite successful in teaching her cubs how to tiger.
Can’t pet this
It is a little-known fact that a baby porcupine is called a porcupette. But it is going to become a much more popular fact because there are two porcupettes at Everland now!
These babies were also born in the spring, around May. They follow their mother everywhere. And while they are growing quickly, they are still only about a quarter of her size.
Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-Z
But wait, don’t go yet, there is another baby, even though this one is in disguise! A baby zebra has been spotted living in Everland Zoo’s Lost Valley since early April. The baby’s name is Wooah, and its presence is remarkable because zebras are sensitive to environmental changes, so it is not easy for them to give birth. But despite all that, Wooah is alive and kicking all over the Lost Valley.