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France’s first panda cub makes its public debut

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Media captionFive-month-old Yuan Meng explores his surroundings

The first panda cub to be born in France has made its public debut five months after its birth.

Yuan Meng, which means “making a dream come true” in Chinese, is the star attraction at Beauval zoo in central France.

Visitors travelled from all over the country to catch a first glimpse of the cub on Saturday.

Brigitte Macron, the wife of the French president, named him in December.

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Yuan Meng playing with his mother, Huan Huan

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He has been getting used to his new home

The zoo’s veterinarian said the cub had been visiting his new enclosure for a 10-day familiarisation process, but this was the first time he had been shown to the public.

One visitor from the Paris region told the AFP news agency: “We felt we took part in a historic moment. We got up at 3:00 in the morning. My son absolutely wanted to see the cub.”

Reproduction between pandas is notoriously difficult as the female pandas are only fertile for a couple of days per year.

Two pandas arrived at Beauval zoo in 2012, on loan from China for a reproduction programme. Yuan Ming was born via artificial insemination.

Pandas were declared an endangered animal in the 1980s, however their numbers have grown as a result of conservation efforts.

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Media captionBrigitte Macron got a shock when she went to name the first panda born in France

China has dispatched pandas to around a dozen countries, with the animal being perceived as a sign of close diplomatic relations.

Brigitte Macron, the panda’s “godmother”, said at the naming ceremony that the cub was a symbol of the historic ties between France and China.

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Visitors took photos with a panda mascot to celebrate the new arrival

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