Two panda cubs born at Berlin Zoo last year charmed local media on Wednesday, a day before their debut in front of the general public. Five-month-old males Meng Xiang and Meng Yuan , whose names mean “long-awaited dream” and “dream come true”, were seen climbing over boulders as they explored their enclosure, watched by their mother Meng Meng and members of the press. The two cuddly cubs were the first pandas to be born in a German zoo, and have been nicknamed “Pit” and “Paule” by their carers. The births on August 31 last year were particularly rare as it is notoriously hard to breed pandas. Zoo Director Andreas Knieriem said he was pleased with their progress. “The most difficult phase was the first month, where we needed to be extra careful because there is a danger of infectious diseases coming from outside,” he said. The zoo is expecting a surge in visitors when the pandas are put on public display for the first time on Thursday. Zoo directors are planning to open more ticket desks to avoid long queues, and have arranged for security personnel to guard the panda enclosure. Calls to name panda cubs ‘Hong and Kong’ spark German debate on China Alongside their parents Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, the twins are the only pandas currently visible in Germany . On loan from China , the panda couple had arrived in Berlin in June 2017 to great fanfare. Famed for its “panda diplomacy”, China has dispatched its national treasure to only about a dozen countries as a symbol of close relations. Berlin Zoo pays US$15 million for a 15-year contract to host the two adult pandas, with most of the money going toward a conservation and breeding research programme in China. While the cubs were born in Berlin, they remain Chinese and must be returned to China within four years after they have been weaned. There are just 1,864 adult giant pandas living in the wild, according to WWF estimates. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.