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PANDA

France to say ‘bienvenue’ to its first ever panda cub

A French zoo is celebrating the news that its female panda is pregnant meaning France will soon be welcoming its very first cub.

France to say 'bienvenue' to its first ever panda cub
Female panda Huan Huan rests inside her box. Photo: AFP
Delighted French zoo officials were bursting with joy Wednesday at the news their female panda is pregnant — a first for France.
   
A scan by zoo vets on Wednesday revealed that Huan Huan, on loan to Beauval zoo in central France from China along with her male partner Yuan Zi, is expecting her first cub.
   
“It's exceptional. We just exploded in joy as we've been waiting such a long time for this moment,” the zoo's communications director Delphine Delord told AFP.
   
“It also gives us hope for the conservation of pandas, which in nature are in danger of extinction.”
   
The nine-year-old pandas are the only giant pandas living in France, and they arrived in Beauval in 2012 after intense, high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing.
   
Only 19 zoos around the world, outside  China, have been allowed to house pandas.
   
But breeding pandas, in captivity or in the wild, is notoriously difficult.
 
The female panda is only on heat once a year for about 48 hours.
 
Huan Huan and her beau were brought together in February, with the hope they would mate, but it didn't happen, said Delord.
   
“So we did an artificial insemination,” she added.
   
Since a panda's gestation period is only 50 days, the baby cub is now due on either August 4 or 5, likely weighing in at around just 100 grammes.
   
If all goes well with the pregnancy and birth, the cub will leave Beauval in the next two to three years to be returned to China.
   
Last year, zoo officials had been bitterly disappointed when Huan Huan had a fake pregnancy, a fairly common occurrence among female pandas.

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PANDAS

Panda gives birth to twins at French zoo, one cub dies

There was joy and pain for French zookeepers Friday as their female panda gave birth to twins, but one died soon afterwards.

Panda gives birth to twins at French zoo, one cub dies
Photo: AFP

Huan Huan, on loan to Beauval zoo in central France from China, delivered the first cub at 10:18pm and the second at 10:32.

But soon after birth, the first, which weighed just 121 grams, began having problems breathing and died despite the best efforts of zoo staff.

“It was too weak to survive. The Chinese experts, who have experience of this, saw it straight away,” zoo director Rodolphe Delord said.

“Our veterinary teams did everything they could to save it, but it was too small, too weak.”

But he said the second twin, which weighed in at a healthier 142.4 grams, was in “perfect health”.

The youngster has been put in an incubator so vets can give first-time mum Huan Huan a helping hand, zoo officials said.


The second of the two panda cubs is fed for the first time. Photo: AFP

Nine-year-old Huan Huan 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 — was carrying a single cub.

Breeding pandas is notoriously difficult and this is the first time a cub has been born in France.

The female panda is only in heat once a year for about 48 hours. The gestation period for pandas is a mere 50 days.

Huan Huan (meaning “happy”) and Yuan Zi (“chubby”) are the only giant pandas living in France.

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.

If all goes well with the birth, the surviving cub will leave Beauval in the next two to three years to be returned to China.

READ ALSO: France to say 'bienvenue' to its first ever panda cub