Giant panda cub attracts hundreds of visitors for first public appearance in French zoo

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Associated Press

Five-month-old Yuan Meng, the first giant panda cub born in France, made its public debut today at the Beauval Zoo in Saint-Aignan, central France.

Five-month-old Yuan Meng was the first giant panda cub to be born in France.
Source: Associated Press

The male baby panda, born on August 4, appeared alongside its mother Huan Huan behind a glass wall in their lavish home adorned with Chinese lanterns and rockeries, amid cheers.

The name "Yuan Meng", meaning "the realization of a dream" in Chinese, was given to the baby panda in December at a ceremony attended by its "Godmother", France's First Lady Brigitte Macron.

A large group of fans were attracted to the zoo to get a first glimpse of the panda cub. Hundreds of people were seen lined up at the entrance around 9am, an hour before the zoo opened.

Yuan Meng has grown from only 142 grams at birth to 11 kilograms over the past months, and is doing very well physically.

Two Chinese zookeepers are currently staying in Beauval to train their French colleagues on how to take care of the baby panda.

"Yuan Meng and Huan Huan are very healthy at present. They have a good mental state and appetite. The French visitors have shown their enthusiasm towards Yuan Meng. I didn't expect that there would be so many tourists visiting so soon, as there are not as many visitors on usual days," said Duan Dongqiong, one of the Chinese zookeepers.

Rodolphe Delord, director of the Beauval Zoo, said the panda cub has soon become a bright star at the zoo, drawing close attention from the French media.

"It's the first panda cub born in France, and no animal has received such attention from the French media before. You can also notice that President Macron mentioned giant pandas many times in his speech when he paid a state visit to China last week," said Delord.

The parents of Yuan Meng, Huan Huan and Yuan Zi, arrived in France in January 2012 on a 10-year loan from China.

Since the couple's arrival, the number of visitors to the Beauval Zoo has doubled, and is expected to have reached 1.5 million in 2017.

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