The Lucky Dragon Goes Home

News Brief: Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010

Fu Long, the beloved giant male panda at Vienna’s old imperial zoo, Tiergarten Schönbrunn since Aug. 23, 2007, has been sleeping 18 hours a day, eating his daily meals and cavorting on the obstacle course set up for him.

However, after roughly two years of being the main attraction at the zoo as the only endangered animal of its species to be naturally born in Europe (since the birth of Chu-lin in Madrid in 1982), Fu Long has headed home to China. The cub’s parents were first loaned to Austria under the agreement that Fu Long would be sent home.

Chinese for “Lucky Dragon,” Fu Long left Austria on Nov. 18 for Bifengxia, according to the Zoo officials. Bifengxia is the natural preserve established for pandas in China, located some 90 miles from Chengdu in southwest China, according to the Austrian daily, Der Standard.

A shy animal, Fu Long had stayed hidden for many months raising keepers’ concern for his health. When the panda finally crept out of his nest, his emergence was greeted with joyous relief that took a special place in the memories of the adoring public.

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