Crowds greet giant pandas

Endangered animals arrive at world-renowned Beauval Zoo

16 January 2012

TWO giant pandas have been greeted by a crowd of thousands as they arrived at the world-renowned Beauval Zoo in the heart of the chateaux of the Loire.

Hours earlier Yuan Zi et Huan Huan had touched down at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport after an 11-hour flight from China.

Chinese ambassador Kong Quan said the two three-year-old pandas had had a "pleasant flight" and added: "They appreciated the transport, they ate a lot and they have started to learn French..."

They are the first pandas to arrive in France since China presented two to President Pompidou in 1973. They are on a 10-year loan to France and follow top-level discussions between President Sarkozy and Chinese leader Hu Jintao.

They will live at Beauval - in the Loir-et-Cher town of Saint-Aignan between Tours and Vierzon - which has a reputation for conservancy and working with endangered species. The zoo will be working closely with Chinese specialists to investigate the animals' reproduction - Huan Huan, the female, is only fertile for two or three days in a year.

Beauval - classed by Forbes Traveler as one of the 15 most beautiful zoos in the world - contains around 4,600 animals. It has separate zones for its collection of endangered species and has white tigers and white lions, rhinos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans, manatees and koalas as well as one of Europe's biggest sea lion pools.

The last census in 2005 found only 1,600 giant pandas living in the wild and Beauval is one of just 16 zoos outside China to have pandas. The other European zoos with giant pandas are Berlin, Edinburgh, Madrid and Vienna.

For details on Beauval Zoo, try the zoo website

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France*
Featured Help Guide
What the Brexit deal means for UK residents of France, second homeowners and visitors in 2021 and after
Get news, views and information from France