Monday 19 November 2018

France's first baby panda throws a tantrum at naming ceremony

Brigitte Macron with baby panda Yuan Meng (AP)
Brigitte Macron with baby panda Yuan Meng (AP)

France's first baby panda has been given a name which fittingly means "accomplishment of a dream".

Chinese dignitaries and French first lady Brigitte Macron named the cub Yuan Meng in a ceremony at Beauval Zoo, south of Paris.

It was an important diplomatic moment, but the four-month-old male cub decided otherwise, moving into attack mode with a growling sound and a jump when the French first lady put her hand over a glass wall to pet the cuddly-looking panda.

Yuan Meng's parents are on loan to Beauval from China, and the cub will be sent to a Chinese panda reserve when it is weaned.

Tradition holds that panda cubs born in captivity are named by China.

Mrs Macron, considered the panda's "godmother", officially announced the name.

There are only about 1,800 pandas in the wild in China and about 400 in captivity worldwide.

Baptiste Mulot, chief veterinarian at Beauval Zoo, said Yuan Meng is now moving on all fours and "he's starting to behave really like a child, so he tries to escape from where he's supposed to be.

"He tries ... to go into the corridor."

The cub was pink and hairless when born, weighing just 142 grammes (5oz), and he spent much of his first month in an incubator.

Now, he weighs eight kilogrammes (almost 18lb), his young fur has the black patches pandas are known for and he nurses without a feeding bottle.

Nine-year-old mother Huan Huan was artificially inseminated from partner Yuan Zi this spring.

Both are at Beauval on a 10-year loan from China, and their offspring officially belongs to the Chinese government.


Press Association

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