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Monday, August 07, 2017, 18:32
France awaits delivery of twin cubs
By Fu Jing in Brussels
Monday, August 07, 2017, 18:32 By Fu Jing in Brussels

Experts are on standby for the imminent arrival of the first pandas to be born in the country

Veterinarian Antoine Leclerc (right) shows the heart of one panda baby on a monitor during an exam. (PHOTO BY AFP)

Chinese panda Huan Huan, who is on loan to France, is expecting twin cubs, according to the zoo, which revealed the results of a medical examination exclusively to China Daily on Aug 1. They will be France’s first baby pandas.

The excitement follows the recent discovery that 9-year-old Huan Huan was pregnant following artificial insemination. She has been receiving care from a team of experts at ZooParc de Beauval in central France, about 200 kilometers south of Paris.

“It is very difficult to know exactly when the babies will be born,” said Delphine Delord, the zoo’s communications director. “My colleagues told me it will be on Friday (Aug 4) or Saturday, but we are waiting. Maybe it will be a little bit earlier or later. We still do not know exactly when.”

Delord said one French expert and two from China are sleeping next to Huan Huan’s enclosure in preparation for the birth. The zoo has formed a team of at least 10 people to help with the birth.

Huan Huan sleeps in her enclosure at the French zoo. (PHOTO BY AFP)

She said Huan Huan is off her food and has begun to lose weight, something that is normal for a panda in the final days of a pregnancy.

“Now, she only eats bamboo, and sometimes apple,” Delord said.

She said her team has access to panda milk brought in from China.

They do not yet know the gender of the cubs. The zoo will follow tradition and wait for China to name them.

Delord confirmed that Brigitte Macron, France’s first lady, is expected to become the cubs’ “godmother” soon after their birth.

“I feel very excited because these are the first babies of Huan Huan and the first pandas to be born in France,” Delord said. “It is a very important birth. After the babies come, we will contact the first lady.”

Xiang Chen in Brussels contributed to this story.

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