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French zoo’s baby pandas get football star godfather: Kylian Mbappé

100 days since their birth in a French zoo, Yuandudu and Huanlili now weigh 5.5 kg each. Footballer Kylian Mbappé is proud to have been named as their godfather.

French football star Kylian Mbappé is proud godfather to these two baby pandas.
French football star Kylian Mbappé is proud godfather to these two baby pandas. (Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)

Twin panda cubs born in a French zoo were on Thursday named Yuandudu and Huanlili at a ceremony attended by football star Kylian Mbappe, who has been named the animals’ ‘godfather’.

Paris Saint-Germain star and France Mbappe and Chinese Olympic diving gold medallist Zhang Jiaqi, the ‘godmother’, were both at the event at the Beauval zoo in Saint-Aignan, central France.

The naming of baby pandas is traditionally the prerogative of China’s First Lady, but this time Peng Liyuan gave the job to the French public.

IN PICTURES: Panda in French zoo gives birth to twins

“More than 122,000 French people connected to our website to choose the names, Yuandudu and Huanlili,” from a number of options, zoo director Delphine Delord said.

Mbappe and Zhang unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

“It’s a great honour to be here 100 days after the birth of our two wonders,” Mbappe told the guests at the naming ceremony.

“It’s an honour but also a responsibility because, behind it, there is the project to protect this endangered species,” he added.

Panda reproduction, in captivity or in the wild, is notoriously difficult as experts say few pandas get in the mood or even know what to do when they do.

The two pandas, born back in August, way 5.5kg each.
It is unclear if Mbappé will play a hands-on role as godfather. (Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)

Further complicating matters, the window for conception is small since female pandas are in heat only once a year for about 24-48 hours.

Only around 2,000 pandas remain alive in the wild in China, although the International Union for the Conservation of Natur (IUCN) removed them from the red list of endangered species in 2016.

The Beauval cubs, born on August 2 and both females, are the offspring of Yuan Zi and Huan Huan who were loaned to France by China a decade ago.

READ ALSO French zoo captures runaway red panda

The panda parents also had twins back in 2017, but only one survived.

“The names Yuandudu and Huanlili are inspired by their parents’ names, Yuan Zi and Huan Huan. They evoke the wish for healthy growth for the babies and symbolise the deep ties between China and France,” said Delord.

Forty-five percent of the online votes were for those names, she added.

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ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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