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France's first panda cub, Yuan Meng, makes public debut

A playful baby panda has been the star attraction this weekend at Beauval Zoo, south of Paris. Little Yuan Meng is the first panda cub to be born in a French zoo.

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France's first baby panda makes public debut

Five-month-old Yuan Meng — whose name means "making a dream come true" — has proved a huge hit at Beauval Zoo.

The baby appeared along with his mother in a new enclosure.

In keeping with his name, Yuan Meng's appearance meant some zoo visitors had their wishes fulfilled.

"We got up at 3 in the morning," said Delphine, who had traveled from the Paris region. "My son absolutely wanted to see the cub. We felt we took part in a historic moment. It was very moving."

'Little ball of happiness'

Yuan Meng was one of twins when he was born in August, but his sibling died soon after birth.

Read more: Former British Prime Minister Thatcher eschewed panda diplomacy

"It is very important," said another visitor, Patricia. "We absolutely wanted to be here, to discover this ball of fur. It's a little ball of happiness, of peace."

China has sent pandas to only about a dozen countries, using the animal as a mark of good relations. A female and male arrived in Beauval in 2012 after top-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing.

Yuan Meng was born five years later through artificial insemination.

                                    
rc/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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