France’s baby panda gets a fitting name, announced by first lady Brigitte Macron
France’s first baby panda has a name four months after his birth.
Chinese dignitaries and French first lady Brigitte Macron chose Yuan Meng, which fittingly means “the realisation of a wish” or “accomplishment of a dream.”
A naming ceremony held Monday at the Beauval Zoo south of Paris was an important diplomatic moment, but the young male panda had other priorities. Yuan Meng growled and jumped when zoo director Rodolphe Delord reached over his glass-walled enclosure to offer a pet.
First lady Macron, who was standing next to Delord, recoiled slightly, but with a smile.
Yuan Meng’s parents are on loan to Beauval from China, and the cub will be sent to a Chinese panda reserve when he is weaned.
Tradition holds that China retains the right to name panda cubs born in captivity. Macron – considered the panda’s “godmother” – officially announced the name. Over 100 reporters attended the ceremony.
“Yuan Meng and his parents represent the bond between the countries which have a lot to share,” Macron said, who was making her first official remarks since President Emmanuel Macron took office.
The pandas “are the illustration of an always productive dialogue between our two people, who for centuries have looked at each other, listened to each other and understood each other,” the first lady said.
Chinese Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui read a message from China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan.
“The birth of the baby panda is a symbol of the bright prospects of the Franco-Chinese relationship. I express the sincere hope that little Yuan Meng grows up in the best conditions, that he brings happiness to the French people, especially to the French children,” the message said.
There are about 1,800 pandas living in the wild in China and about 400 in captivity worldwide.
Baptiste Mulot, chief veterinarian at the Beauval Zoo, said Yuan Meng has learned to move on all fours and “he’s starting to behave really like a child, so he tries to escape from where he’s supposed to be.”
The cub was pink and hairless when he was born, weighing just 142 grams. He spent much of his first month in an incubator. Now, he weighs 8kg and his shaggy fur is taking on the black and white colouring for which the species is known.
Yuan Meng’s mother, 9-year-old Huan Huan, was artificially inseminated with sperm from partner Yuan Zi this spring. Both are at Beauval on a 10-year loan from China, and their offspring officially belong to the Chinese government.