'Dream come true': Brigitte Macron names French baby Panda

BEAUVAL, France (Reuters) - French First Lady Brigitte Macron revealed on Monday that the first panda born in France, to whom she is “Godmother”, will go by the name of Yuan Meng.

The names means “Dream come true” and was chosen by China, the country of origin of the cub’s parents.

The small male cub, survivor of two babies born on Aug. 4 at Beauval zoo about 250 km south of Paris, until now went by the name of Mini Yuan Zi after his father Yuan Zi, whose names translates as Podgy.

Brigitte Macron, wife of President Emmanuel Macron, announced the creature’s official name at an event attended by China’s vice foreign minister, Zhang Yesui.

The cub lost his twin sibling barely two hours after their August births, which were firsts in France.

The arrival of the panda parents in France back in 2012 was billed in official circles as a sign of warming bilateral ties.

Mother Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi are due to return to China in 2022 while the young panda is expected to stay in France until the age of two or three.

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The cub, weighing in at 142.4 grams at birth, opened his eyes for the first time in mid-September and weighed 7.903 kilos as of Dec. 4, the Beauval zoo said on its website.

While an adult female panda can weigh up to 125 kilograms (275 pounds), a baby panda often weighs was little as 120 grams (4 ounces) at birth - or 143 grams in this case. In the wild, pandas typically give birth to a single infant, born tiny, blind, pink and almost hairless.

France’s dealings with pandas - vegetarians but nonetheless burly bears with big claws - have not always been easy.

Former leader Valery Gisgard d’Estaing admitted decades after his 1970s presidency that a panda jumped on him when he entered its pen against zookeeper advice during a presidential visit to Vincennes zoo, on the eastern edge of Paris.

Writing by Brian Love; editing by Richard Lough