France's 1st baby panda makes public debut

Giant panda cub makes his first public appearance

Last month he was named Yuan Meng, which means "making a dream come true" in Mandarin Chinese.

FRANCE'S first panda cub made its debut public appearance today, five months after its birth, to rapturous crowds - some of whom had travelled hours to see the fluffy male.

The baby appeared along with his mother in a new enclosure.

A large group of fans were attracted to the zoo to get a first glimpse of the panda cub.

Delphine Delord, chief of communication at the zoo, took the opportunity to brief the first visitors on the challenging reproduction process of pandas, and the protection of the endangered animals.

A female and male mate arrived in Beauval in 2012 after high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing, but Yuan Meng was born through artificial insemination.

The cub's parents are on loan to the zoo from China.

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

"It is very important", said another visitor, Patricia.

Panda births are closely watched because they remain rare - there are only about 18-hundred pandas in the wild in China and approximately 400 in captivity.

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