Giant pandas, as one of the world's most iconicanimals, can always create a sensation. So gettingto be the one who looks after the black and whitestars, especially when they are babies, can land onein the limelight too.
Zhang Yue, a keeper at the Chengdu Research Baseof Giant Panda Breeding, Southwest China's SichuanProvince, has recently become an Internet celebrityafter a video showing him feeding eight baby bears went viral in November last year, rackingup 30 million views within a month.
He is now regularly asked to pose for pictures by panda fans.
Zhang, 27, grew up in Chengdu and got a job at the base in 2012 after majoring in veterinarysciences.
"A job where I get to feed national treasures every day was extremely attractive," he said,according to a People's Daily report last October.
But the job is not as easy as people imagine. Each of the base's 80 keepers is normally in chargeof two adult pandas. But at busy times Zhang has had to care for five adult bears and ninebabies at once.
Sometimes he has to stay in the base all day, as newborn pandas require round-the-clock care.
"When a couple is in heat, we are even more nervous than they are and get up every two hoursto observe them," he said.
While he cares for each baby panda as if it was his own child, he confesses that his relationshipwith the animals is inevitably only short-term as they will eventually be sent somewhere elsewhen they become adults.
"Years later, they might no longer recognize me, and neither will I recognize them."
He recalled a panda called Damao with whom he spent two months, both day and night, whilethe bear was in quarantine before it was sent to a zoo in Canada in 2012.
"In 2015, a friend of mine went to the zoo and we had a video call. When I called out 'Damao,' itlooked at me. I think it still has a little memory of my voice," he said.