Panda in French Zoo Gives Birth to Female Twin Cubs
Motherhood is twice is nice for Huan Huan.
According to a release from the Beauval Zoo, the giant panda gave birth to female twins in the early morning hours of August 2.
Both cubs arrived into the world "lively, pink, and plump" and weighed in at 149 and 129 grams. Huan Huan handled the birth well and picked up the cubs in her mouth to clean them shortly after the baby animals were born — a promising sign that the mom's maternal instincts are hard at work.
"We just lived a moment of rare intensity. These births are always very exceptional, but they also bring some surprises," Delphine Delord, director of the Beauval Zoo, said in a statement to the Associated Press.
Huan Huan and her mate Yuan Zi are experienced parents, according to AP. The pair welcomed Yuan Meng — the first panda born in France — in 2017. Both mom and dad are on loan to the Beauval Zoo from China for ten years.
The twins arrive after a particularly successful mating season for Huan Huan and Yaun Zi. Beauval Zoo announced in March that the panda partners mated eight times and that veterinarians artificially inseminated Huan Huan with Yaun Zi's sperm to ensure the best chances of a panda pregnancy.
Now that the twins have arrived, zoo veterinarians and panda experts from China are keeping a close eye on the babies' progress and are helping care for the cubs. The experts determined the sex of the cubs — two females — shortly after the pandas' birth and will confirm these findings once the cubs' external genitalia appears in a few months.
Neither cub has a name yet. Names will come after the pandas' first 100 days at the Beauval Zoo.
As part of ongoing conservation efforts, the panda twins will move to China once they are a few years old.
Chinese officials announced in July that since the number of giant pandas in the wild had surpassed 1,800, the species will be reclassified as "vulnerable," according to NBC News, and will no longer be considered endangered.