France's sur­viv­ing baby panda in per­fect health

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

SAINT-AIGNAN-SUR-CHER, France: The first baby panda born in France is in good health and feed­ing from its mother, staff at Beau­val Zoo said yes­ter­day, as they came to terms with los­ing its twin. Zookeep­ers were on alert to en­sure that the sur­viv­ing panda cub of twins born on Fri­day makes it through the cru­cial first week of its life. "The first week is the most dif­fi­cult be­cause it is still very frag­ile," the zoo's chief vet Bap­tiste Mu­lot said yes­ter­day morn­ing. But the early signs ap­peared to be good.

"He is breast­feed­ing from his mother, we'll see if we have to sup­ple­ment that with milk brought by the two Chi­nese car­ers," he added. The Chi­nese team, from the cen­tre for breed­ing pan­das in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince, south­west China, had al­ready given the panda three bot­tle feeds, giv­ing it some­where be­tween 1-1.3 mil­lime­ters of milk. Huan Huan "is a very pro­tec­tive mother, which is very good, but that com­pli­cates the work of the Chi­nese car­ers a bit when it comes to tak­ing the cub away ev­ery two hours," said Mu­lot.

There was joy and pain Fri­day as the zoo's only fe­male panda gave birth to twins, but one died soon af­ter­wards. Huan Huan, on loan to Beau­val zoo in cen­tral France from China, de­liv­ered the first cub at 10:18 pm (2018 GMT) and the sec­ond at 10:32. But soon af­ter birth, the first, which weighed just 121 grams, be­gan hav­ing prob­lems breath­ing and died de­spite the best ef­forts of zoo staff.

'Too weak to sur­vive'

"It was too weak to sur­vive. The Chi­nese ex­perts, who have ex­pe­ri­ence of this, saw it straight away," zoo direc­tor Rodolphe Delord said. "Our ve­teri­nary teams did ev­ery­thing they could to save it, but it was too small, too weak." But he said the sec­ond twin, which weighed in at a health­ier 142.4 grams, was in "per­fect health". The cub stayed mainly with his mother, but when­ever it was taken away from her it was im­me­di­ately put in an in­cu­ba­tor, said chief vet Mu­lot. That al­lowed the Chi­nese car­ers to weigh it and wash it and sup­ple­ment the mother's feed­ing with milk from a bot­tle.

For the mo­ment, the cub is known sim­ply has "Mini Yuan Zi", af­ter its father. Vis­i­tors to the zoo were de­lighted at the news of the birth. "I'm so happy that a baby panda was born here be­cause later, I want to work here," said 13-year-old Mar­ion, who made a spe­cial trip with her par­ents from the south­ern city of Avi­gnon. Vis­i­tors will have to wait three months to see the fam­ily in their en­clo­sure, when the baby panda will have opened its eyes and be cov­ered in hair. In the mean­time, vis­i­tors can watch a film of the pan­das on gi­ant screens.

Nine-year-old Huan Huan and her male part­ner Yuan Zi ar­rived at Beau­val zoo in Jan­uary 2012 on a 10-year loan from China af­ter in­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Paris and Bei­jing. Breed­ing pan­das is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult and this is the first time a cub has been born in France. The fe­male panda is only in heat once a year for about 48 hours. The ges­ta­tion pe­riod for pan­das is a mere 50 days. Huan Huan (mean­ing "happy") and Yuan Zi ("chubby") are the only gi­ant pan­das liv­ing in France. The pair were brought to­gether in Fe­bru­ary, in the hope they would mate, but it didn't hap­pen. In the end, the zoo per­formed an ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion. If all goes well with the birth, the sur­viv­ing cub will leave Beau­val in the next two to three years to be re­turned to China. — AFP

FRANCE: A vet­eri­nar­ian holds the sec­ond of twin cubs born to panda Huan Huan in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, cen­tral France. — AFP

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