Austrian panda cub shies away from naming ceremony

Austria's panda cub snubbed a celebration in his honor Monday, preferring to remain in the cozy hideaway where he was born instead of basking in the limelight.

He missed quite a party.

Amid much fanfare, the furry creature, who was born Aug. 23, was officially named Fu Hu — Mandarin for "Lucky Tiger" — at festivities in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo.

Fu Hu is a sensation because he was conceived naturally. He follows in the footsteps of his older brother, 3-year-old Fu Long, who charmed Austrians before leaving for China last year. The siblings share the same birthday.

Zoo officials said from the start that Fu Hu, who has yet to make his public debut, would be a no-show since he wasn't ready and they didn't want to stress him.

But they had plenty of updates on hand — as well as badges and cupcakes decorated with his picture — to satisfy a large, camera-wielding crowd that included the Chinese ambassador to Austria, Shi Mingde.

"He seems very content," said keeper Eveline Dungl, adding that Fu Hu now weighs 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds), is teething, and has even started crawling.

No one knows when the black and white mystery man will finally emerge from his enclosure.

"I don't dare make any predictions," joked zoo director Dagmar Schratter, recalling how she initially thought brother Fu Long would venture out at the end of November 2007. In the end, his big day was Jan. 30, 2008.

Panda fans such as retiree Ilse Zwettler, who visited Fu Long in China this summer, are willing to wait.

"Of course we all want to see him, but let him have his peace and quiet," Zwettler said with a smile.



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