Current Affairs

France’s first panda cub makes debut appearance


SAINT-AIGNAN-SUR-CHER: France’s first panda cub made its debut public appearance Saturday (Jan 13), five months after its birth, to rapturous crowds – some of whom had travelled hours to see the fluffy male.

Yuan Meng, which means “making a dream come true” in Chinese, was introduced into his new enclosure in Beauval zoo in central France along with his mother as adoring onlookers ringed the site.

“We got up at 3.00 in the morning. My son absolutely wanted to see the cub,” said Delphine who had travelled from the Paris region.

“We felt we took part in a historic moment. It was very moving,” she said.

Zoo veterinarian Baptiste Mulot said the cub had been brought to the enclosure over the past 10 days to familiarise himself with the surroundings.

Beauval Zoo director Rodolphe Delord and his sister, the zoo’s head of communication, Delphine Delord look on as panda cub Yuan Meng and its mother Huan Huan explore their new enclosure during the cub’s first public appearance on Jan 13, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Guillaume Souvant)

Panda reproduction, in captivity or in the wild, is notoriously difficult because the female panda is only in heat once a year for about 48 hours.

But the number of pandas worldwide has rebounded since the black-and-white bear was declared an endangered animal in the 1980s, thanks to efforts to protect it and its habitat.

China has dispatched its national treasure to only about a dozen countries, using the animal as a symbol of close relations.

A female and male mate arrived in Beauval in 2012 after high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing, but Yuan Meng was born through artificial insemination.

Huan Huan gave birth to twins on Aug 4, 2017, but one died soon afterwards. The nine-year-old panda and her male partner Yuan Zi arrived at Beauval zoo in January 2012 on a 10-year loan from China after intense, high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing. (Photo: AFP/Guillaume Souvant)

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