Pandas make public debut at French zoo
Two giant pandas who arrived in France last month were finally introduced to the public on Saturday. Huan Huan and Yuan Zi are the only giant pandas in the county and there was much excitement when the zoo finally opened the doors to the panda enclosure to the public.
They’re a long way from their home in China, but Huan Huan and Yuan Zi seem to be adjusting well to life in France.
They’ve spent the last four weeks settling into their new home at Beauval Zoo Parc in the Loire Valley and when the zoo finally opened them up to the public, they seemed right at home and not at all phased by all their visitors.
Delphine Delord, Director of Education, Beauval Zoo Parc, said, "Its one of the best days in the history of the zoo, we open the panda today and it’s just great to have so many people waiting for them and being so happy to see them."
Panda fever hit France when the pair arrived last month and after weeks of waiting the panda enclosure was the first port of call for most visitors to the zoo.
A visitor said, "They’re adorable. Like two beautiful fluffy toys. So loveable, you want to touch them. The kids have their faces painted; they’re very happy, and happy to see the pandas."
Huan Huan and Yuan Zi came from Chengdu Research Base for Giant Pandas and the staff at the zoo in France have been working closely with their colleagues in China to ensure the pandas adapt well to their new life.
Li Liu, Chinese vet, said, "I think they are happy to be here. The enclosure for them is very good, the inside enclosure and the outside enclosure are very good and they like it very much."
The pair is on a 10-year loan from China in a traditional diplomatic gesture aimed at strengthening ties with other countries.
Zhu Jing, Chinese Embassy official, said, "We can see the joy on people’s faces - the visitors, the children and the parents. It gives us great pleasure that the pandas are bringing so much joy to our friends in France."
Huan Huan and Yuan Zi are already a big hit here in France. But the staff at Beauval Zoo Parc hope the panda will be more than just a tourist attraction and actually educate people and raise awareness about the endangered species.