The very first panda born in France is named Yuan Meng, a name chosen by the country’s first lady Brigitte Macron, which translates to “the realization of a wish” or “accomplishment of a dream.”
— AP Europe (@AP_Europe) December 4, 2017
The joyous naming ceremony was held at the Beauval Zoo located in southern Paris on Monday, according to the Associated Press via South China Morning Post.
Yuan Meng’s ceremony was considered an important diplomatic moment as his parents, 9-year-old Huan Huan and Yuan Zi, who both arrived in the zoo in January 2012, are on a 10-year loan from China.
Macron, who is considered Yuan Meng’s “godmother,” officially announced his name at the ceremony in front of 100 reporters.
“Yuan Meng and his parents represent the bond between the countries which have a lot to share,” the 64-year-old first lady to President Emmanuel Macron said.
The pandas “are the illustration of an always productive dialogue between our two people, who for centuries have looked at each other, listened to each other and understood each other,” she added in her first official remarks since Macron took office.
China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan, also sent a message for the joyous diplomatic moment between the two countries.
“The birth of the baby panda is a symbol of the bright prospects of the Franco-Chinese relationship. I express the sincere hope that little Yuan Meng grows up in the best conditions, that he brings happiness to the French people, especially to the French children,” Peng’s letter wrote, which was read by Chinese Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui at the ceremony.
Yuan Meng, who was conceived through artificial insemination, was born on Aug. 4. He originally had another sibling, but Huan Huan only raised one of the two pandas — a common practice in the wild where female pandas only raise the strongest one of the two, Xinhua reported.
Yuan Meng is the youngest of the two cubs. His sibling was immediately put in an incubator after Huan Huan abandoned the cub. Unfortunately, the first cub didn’t make it and was announced dead shortly after.
The surviving cub was pink and hairless when he was born, according to the AP. Yuan Meng was only 142 grams at the time, and he spent most of his first month in an incubator. But now, the lively baby panda weighs at 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) and his black and white fur is starting to emerge.
“He’s starting to behave really like a child, so he tries to escape from where he’s supposed to be,” said Chief Veterinarian at the Beauval Zoo, Baptiste Mulot, further noting that Yuan Meng just learned how to walk on all four legs.