Austria's panda cub makes public debut

Austria's panda cub has already become a celebrity.

Amid much fanfare, the furry, black and white creature was officially named Fu Long, Mandarin for "Lucky Dragon," at a ceremony Tuesday at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo.

China's ambassador to Austria and a delegation that flew in from Beijing topped the guest list. Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, zoo directors and teenagers from a local Chinese school performing traditional dances were also there - along with a horde of reporters, photographers and camera crews.

Fu Long, who was absent during the roughly one-hour ceremony but whose larger-than-life photo was projected on a screen, was conceived naturally and born on Aug. 23. Zookeepers had not been sure that Yang Yang, his mother, had been pregnant.

The parents, Yang Yang and father Long Hui, are on loan from China and came to Austria in 2003. Their mating earlier this year was documented closely by Austrian media and the cub's birth almost 130 days later dominated headlines for days.

"My wish is that Fu Long grows up happy," Chinese Ambassador Wu Ken said after announcing the panda cub's name. "In China, a dragon is a symbol of luck."

Plassnik, appropriately dressed in black and white, said pandas were an endangered species and Fu Long symbolized nature's vulnerability.

"We don't just have a public's darling, we also have a highly threatened animal," she told the crowd gathered close to the zoo's panda enclosure.

Despite being born on Austrian soil, Fu Long was likely to return to his homeland in about two years, according to Wu.

"Why? Because when a panda is two years old he needs to find a partner," he said.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova