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Taipei Zoo gearing up for influx of visitors on Yuanzai's imminent debut

TAIPEI--The Taipei Zoo said that it has been preparing for the upcoming public debut of Yuanzai, the giant panda cub that has created a sensation across Taiwan since its birth in July.

To prevent overcrowding in the panda house from Jan. 6, when Yuanzai is expected to be put on public display for the first time, the zoo said it will set up numbered slip dispensers to control the maximum number of visitors at 19,200 per day.

“The cub could attract more fans than her parents did,” said zoo spokesman Chang Ming-hsiung, referring to Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, giant pandas given to Taiwan four years ago by China to symbolize warmer ties between the two sides.

The pair drew 1 million visitors in less than three months when they were put on display in early 2009.

Real-time visitor volume will also be broadcast at the zoo and on the Internet so that panda viewers can try to avoid the most crowded periods, the zoo said.

It could take 20 minutes to wait for a ticket, Chang said, but added that it remains to be decided for how long each visitor will be allowed to stay in the building.

In any case, chances are low that fans will be able to see the animal awake, as the 11.5-kg cub sleeps for nearly 20 hours each day, he said.

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Giant panda Yuan Yuan, left, and her cub Yuanzai are captured inside their living quarters in this photo released by the Taipei Zoo on Saturday, Dec. 14. (CNA)

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