France: Baby panda celebrates 1st month

Officials at a French zoo say the baby panda born last month can now drink without a feeding bottle

Baby panda

Chinese experts and French zookeepers are working to ensure the panda cub's survival after his twin died during the first-ever birth of the rare animal in France. Panda mother Huan Huan can be seen daily enveloping the cub and zoo handlers watching him now that there is not a bottle to feed him. Huan Huan (meaning happy) and Yuan Zi (chubby), the father, are the only giant pandas living in France.

Delphine Delord, director of communications and educational programs at said zoo, stated that Huan Huan is a very protective mother, which it makes it difficult for the panda experts to check on the baby and supplement his feedings.

The baby panda was born on the 4th of August and French first lady Brigitte Macron was named as the rare newborn’s godmother soon afterwards.

Panda births are closely watched because they remain rare; there are only about 1,800 pandas in the wild in China and about 400 in captivity worldwide. Tradition holds that panda cubs born in captivity are named by China. The French first lady is expected to announce the name officially at a visit to the zoo in the next couple of months.

Nine-year-old Huan Huan was artificially inseminated from partner Yuan Zi this spring. The pair were brought together in February in the hope they would mate, but it didn't happen. In the end, the zoo performed an artificial insemination. Both are at Beauval on a ten-year loan from China, and their offspring officially belong to the Chinese government. If the new cub survives, he will be shown to the French public in about two months. Then after about two or three years, he will be sent to a panda reserve in China's Chengdu province.

Pandas have long been considered one of the world's most endangered animals, although last year a leading group, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, lowered its classification to 'vulnerable' thanks to decades of costly conservation efforts. The Chinese government rejected the group's decision, saying the panda remains at risk. The Asian nation, for decades, gifted friendly nations with its unofficial national mascot in what was known as 'panda diplomacy' and more recently has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

 

Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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