The first panda to be born in France, the baby has been christened Yuan Meng, a Chinese name that translates as “the accomplishment of a dream”. The baby had previously been known simply as “Mini Yuan Zi” after its father, explains French news source 20 Minutes.
Macron, wife of president Emmanuel Macron, was present at the ceremony due to her role as godmother of the four-month-old panda, whose birth has been seen as a triumph not only for the zoological world but also for diplomatic relations between France and China.
The Chinese foreign minister Zhan Yesui and the Chinese ambassador Zhai Ju were also present at the ceremony, as were a group of Chinese students who are learning French in Châteauroux.
“Yuan Meng is the energetic and vigorous fruit of solid Franco-Chinese friendship," said Brigitte Macron, at the event, which saw the baby temporarily placed in a special transparent enclosure.
“The birth of Yuan Meng was highly-anticipated from both the French and Chinese sides,” said the Chinese deputy foreign minister. “The birth of this baby panda is a symbol of the beautiful future prospects in relations between France and China."
Yuan Meng, who still weighs just eight kilos, is still covered in young pink-white and grey fur, and will only appear as white and black and fluffy as his parents in later months.
Pandas are considered to be endangered, and the birth of Yuan Meng is seen as a way to educate the public to the species’ importance.
“The presence of pandas in zoological parks allows us to raise public awareness of the conservation of biodiversity as a whole and allows us to finance the conservation of much less known species,” explained Beauval zoo director Rodolphe Delord.
The baby panda - who will be transported to China in three years, once he is old enough to live without his parents - is said to be coping well with the intense scrutiny he is under so far, but will not be available for public viewing until January 13.
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