Young pandas at Franklin park zoo in Seoul are living out their life as young adults in a new environment, one that they’ve never seen before.
“The first few days we were really scared because of the animals,” said Park Jin Young, who was born at the zoo on September 10, aged just seven weeks.
“We were afraid that they could get hurt and die.
Then, when we started to experience our first interactions with other pandas, we realised that they’re just as happy as us.”
The park is one of only three in South Korea where pandas can be born and live in their native habitat.
It is the only zoo where the young pandas are raised in the wild.
The first pandas were born at a young age in a facility where they were kept for two weeks.
“We had a lot of stress during those two weeks,” said Mr Young.
“It was a very hard time for us.”
When they were just seven-and-a-half weeks old, Mr Young says, he realised that there were no humans around.
“I thought, this is so crazy.
We’re just being kept here,” he said.
He said he has always dreamed of becoming a pandas keeper, and was looking forward to a “big” day when he would be able to take a young pandasin for a walk.
“It’s very exciting for me because I never thought I’d have a chance to be able do that,” he told Al Jazeera.
The new homeFor Mr Young, living in the zoo has been a “very special moment”.
“It was like being at a party for me,” he recalled.
“I never thought that I would be living like this.
It was very strange.
I didn’t know what to expect.”
He has now been living at the Franklin Park zoo for eight months, and said that he has never felt so free and free to move around.
He has even seen some of the pandas’ natural environment, including his favourite bamboo forest, where he can play with his favourite toy, a dog toy.
“They are very happy and friendly,” he added.
Mr Young has already seen some new sights, including a giraffe and two young pandan cubs, but he still has a lot to learn about the panda world.
“For me, it’s a little bit of a learning curve because I have never been able to meet other panda and have been scared of them,” he admitted.
“But now I’m really excited.”
Mr Young said that, once he’s seen them for themselves, he will be able “get a lot more out of them” than he did before.
“They’re really adorable,” he concluded.
The pandas aren’t the only ones in Seoul’s zoo.
As well as the pandan babies, there are also two pandas who are “pandas born at birth”, named Jin Young and Jin Young.
“All pandas born here are named after a flower or plant in the city,” said an official at the park.
“Jin Young is named after the flower we have here in the park called Jin,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.
“But it also means that the child was born from a seed, or a plant that’s close to the flower.”
Pandas are not the only animals at the Seoul zoo.
There are also three pandas living in an incubator in a separate enclosure, which is known as the “young panda nursery”.
The facility is part of the zoo’s new Pangang Young Zoological Park, where young pandans are raised for about 10 months, after which they are released into the wild to continue their lives.
It’s not clear if the pandans have been able go into the facility to be born yet.
“There are some issues with the young [pandans] that are being monitored but we have not yet started to work on that,” said park manager Mr Lee.
“Panda babies are born in the laboratory so we don’t have a whole lot of time to investigate that.”
Mr Lee said that although they do not have a specific number of pandas they are still trying to raise enough pandas to meet the demand for the zoo.
“Since we’ve been here for eight weeks we have had about 300 new pandas and we’ve had two cubs,” he explained.
“So it’s been a very, very busy year.”
The zoo has also been able get a “fresh start” with the arrival of its new panda trainer, Mr Lee said.
He said that Mr Lee had been “the most difficult person” at the facility, and that he had been able “to do his best”.
“The young panda trainers have helped us a lot,” he remarked.