Your morning adorable: Thailand’s favorite giant panda cub receives a token from an admirer

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Lin Ping, the giant panda born last year at Thailand’s Chiang Mai Zoo, continues to be treated like royalty in her birth country. For Valentine’s Day, a zoo veterinarian even presented her with her very own plush rose toy. (We can’t help but think from the expression on Lin Ping’s face that she’s a bit disappointed that her gift is a toy plant rather than an edible one, but maybe we’re projecting.)

After Lin Ping’s birth -- the first successful birth of a giant panda in Thailand’s history -- the Thai public became so enchanted by the cub that elephant keepers felt their charges had been relegated to also-ran status. To draw attention back to Thailand’s elephant population, the keepers tried an unorthodox tactic, painting the pachyderms to resemble giant pandas, using water-based paint.

Lin Ping’s name, which was selected by her fans in a contest that received more than 20 million votes, is representative both of her Thai birthplace and her Chinese heritage (her parents are on loan to the Chiang Mai Zoo from China). The name honors the cub’s mother, Lin Hui, calls to mind the name of Thailand’s Ping River and translates to ‘forest of ice’ in Chinese.

-- Lindsay Barnett

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