Visitors flock to Everland’s Panda World to see baby Fu Bao and parents

What is the most popular wild animal in the world? If numbers of visitors and media attention is anything to go by, giant pandas must be near the very top of the list. Here in Korea, baby panda Fu Bao is attracting more and more visits from fans each day.
Since her birth, baby Fu Bao has been winning the hearts and minds of her many visitors.

Panda fans without pause

The average number of visitors per day to Panda World, where Fu Bao lives with her parents Ai Bao and Le Bao, was about 7,000 in the last week of May, up roughly 20% from the first week of May with its back-to-back public holidays like Labor Day and Children’s Day.

One Everland spokesperson gave this analysis: “With the increase in media stories about pandas at home, and as it has become known that baby panda Fu Bao will have to return to China about a year from now to find a mate, the stream of visitors to see the panda family is non-stop.”

There is something appealing about the way that giant pandas look and move.

Giant pandas in zoos around the world are usually on loan from China, not permanent residents. Pandas born overseas they are sent to China at a certain point to breed, to increase the number of this endangered species.

Fu Bao’s Grandfather

Kang Chul-won, a zookeeper at Everland’s zoo, has become famous for the special bond that he shares with Fu Bao, a bond often shown in videos filmed by Everland staff and visitors. In fact, Kang’s nickname amongst Koreans is “Fu Bao’s Grandfather.” He made a guest appearance on 24 May on a popular Korean light entertainment program to share his memorable experience with Fu Bao and about her future move to China.

Fu Bao sharing a moment of closeness with zookeeper Kang Chul-won
On the show, Kang Chul-won explained, “when she reaches maturity next year, Fu Bao will leave for China to meet her mate.” Speaking of the sadness of seeing Fu Bao leave, he added, “The happiness of people should be seen differently from the happiness of animals. As a zookeeper, I want to put the happiness of animals first.”

Clips of the show were shared on Bilibili, a Chinese video sharing platform, where viewers commented, “Fu Bao looks happy,” “It looks like Everland is doing a good job taking care of pandas,” and also “Her grandfather is a really good zookeeper”

Trending on social media

Reflecting the public interest in Fu Bao, algorithms have helped panda videos become very popular recently on social media. Everland’s official YouTube channel, and the related Talking Zoo PuppaTV channel, which both have many Fu Bao videos, racked up nearly 25 million views of panda clips in May.

One YouTube shorts video, showing Fu Bao and her “Grandfather” spending time together arm-in-arm, has been viewed 16 million times since it was uploaded in late June 2021.

Comments from both domestic and international viewers are enthusiastic, such as “Fu Bao seems to love her grandfather,” “Affectionate communication between a grandfather and his granddaughter,” and “Just watching it makes me really happy.”

Everland’s Panda World, opened in 2016, is currently one of the few places in the world where people can get close to pandas. Three pandas in one family live there, including Fu Bao’s proud mother Ai Bao and father Le Bao. Fu Bao was the first panda born in Korea through natural breeding in July 2020.
Panda World at Everland offers a unique space where humans can get close to giant pandas.
Currently at almost three years old, Fu Bao is beloved by many people and her sizeable fan base had given her cute nicknames such as Miss Fu of Yongin, Princess Fu, and Chubby Fu.
Pandas are endangered, with only about 1,800 of their species left in the world. Fu Bao is scheduled to leave for China to meet her mate next year when she turns four, although no specific time has yet been set.
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