‘Good news?’ That’s what we first usually say when someone is about to share the news of their pregnancy, don’t we? While it is an extremely joyful moment for humans when one gets to know a baby will soon be a part of their world, it’s the same with animals too! Recently, a French zoo was surprised to know that a female panda was pregnant and their happiness knew no bounds. Delighted zoo officials were busy celebrating — what seems to be a first — on Wednesday (July 26). And, it’s obvious, as the nine-year-olds are the only giant pandas living in France.
Huan Huan, on loan to Beauval zoo in central France from China along with her male partner Yuan Zi, is expecting her first cub, a scan by zoo vets showed. Thrilled after hearing the news, the zoo’s communications director Delphine Delord told AFP, “It’s exceptional. We just exploded in joy as we’ve been waiting such a long time for this moment. It also gives us hope for the conservation of pandas, which in nature are in danger of extinction.”
The pandas had arrived in Beauval in 2012 after intense, high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing. The two were bought in hope that they would mate, but sadly, that didn’t happen. Breeding pandas, in captivity or in the wild, is extremely difficult. The female panda is only on heat once a year for about 48 hours. Hence, the zoo carried out an artificial insemination.
A panda’s gestation period is only 50 days, and the baby cub is due on either August 4 or 5. Last year, the zoo officials were rewarded with a bitter disappointment when Huan Huan had a fake pregnancy, a fairly common occurrence among female pandas. But, this time around, it seems to be different, and if all goes well, the cub will leave Beauval in the next two to three years to be returned to China.