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.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Yuan Meng playing with his mother, Huan Huan
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption 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.

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

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