The “Panda-monium” continues as France’s first Giant Panda baby grows up at Zoo de Beauval.
Temporarily named Mini Yuan Zi after his father, Yuan Zi, the little Panda has captured the hearts of fans around the world. In keeping with Chinese tradition, the baby will receive his official name when he turns 100 days old.
ZooBorns first reported on Mini Yuan Zi’s birth here, including a dramatic video of the cub’s delivery. The zoo shares weekly updates on the baby’s weight. As of November 3, he weighed nearly 12 pounds – right on target for healthy development.
Mini Yuan Zi spends most of his time with his mother, Huan Huan. Keepers occasionally remove the baby from Huan Huan to weigh him and perform a health check. These brief periods of “alone time” give Huan Huan a chance to eat and rest away from the demands of her baby. When mom and baby are together, Huan Huan holds Mini Yuan Zi close and keeps him warm.
Breeding Giant Pandas is a complex endeavor, and timing is crucial. Adults are solitary, and females come into heat only once per year for 24-48 hours. After three unsuccessful breeding seasons, staff at Zoo de Beauval opted to use artificial insemination. The process worked, and Mini Yuan Zi was born.
See more photos of Mini Yuan Zi below.
Giant Pandas live in only a tiny slice of their original range in Central Asia’s cool mountain forests. Only about 2,000 Giant pandas live in the wild, and another 400 live in zoos. The conservation programs put in place decades ago to protect Giant Pandas are working: the species was downlisted from Endangered to Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2016. However, the Giant Panda population is far from secure and will continue to need protection if it is to thrive.
China retains ownership of all Giant Pandas living in zoos around the world. The animals are loaned to the zoos, and offspring are eventually returned to China to become part of the breeding program.