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Posts tagged ‘Animal Kingdom’

1st panda born in France gets name from China, first lady

December 04, 2017

BEAUVAL, France (AP) — France’s first baby panda has a name four months after his birth: Chinese dignitaries and French first lady Brigitte Macron chose Yuan Meng, which fittingly means “the realization of a wish” or “accomplishment of a dream.”

A naming ceremony held Monday at the Beauval Zoo south of Paris was an important diplomatic moment, but the young male panda had other priorities. Yuan Meng growled and jumped when zoo director Rodolphe Delord reached over his glass-walled enclosure to offer a pet.

The first lady, who was standing next to Delord, recoiled slightly, but with a smile. Yuan Meng’s parents are on loan to Beauval from China, and the cub will be sent to a Chinese panda reserve when he is weaned.

Tradition holds that China retains the right to name panda cubs born in captivity. Brigitte Macron — considered the panda’s “godmother” — officially announced the name. Over 100 reporters attended the ceremony.

“Yuan Meng and his parents represent the bond between the countries which have a lot to share,” Macron said, who was making her first official remarks since President Emmanuel Macron took office. 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,” the first lady said.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui read a message from China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan. “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,” the message said.

There are about 1,800 pandas living in the wild in China and about 400 in captivity worldwide. Baptiste Mulot, chief veterinarian at the Beauval Zoo, said Yuan Meng has learned to move on all fours and “he’s starting to behave really like a child, so he tries to escape from where he’s supposed to be.”

The cub was pink and hairless when he was born, weighing just 142 grams (5 ounces.) He spent much of his first month in an incubator. Now, he weighs 8 kilograms (almost 18 pounds) and his fur has the black and white coloring for which patches are known.

Yuan Meng’s mother, 9-year-old Huan Huan, was artificially inseminated with sperm from partner Yuan Zi this spring. Both are at Beauval on a 10-year loan from China, and their offspring officially belong to the Chinese government.

Indifferent to the excitement at the zoo on Monday, they slept during their child’s naming ceremony. Yuan Zi will probably never meet his son, since the zoo tries to respect the habits of animals in the wild.

China for decades gifted friendly nations with its unofficial national mascot in what was known as “panda diplomacy.” More recently the country has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

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Bavarian town honors horses’ patron saint in procession

October 31, 2017

WARNGAU, Germany (AP) — Townspeople and farmers in the small Bavarian town of Warngau have donned traditional costumes for their annual procession in horse-drawn carriages to a local church in honor of St. Leonard, considered the patron saint of horses and livestock.

The “Leonhardi pilgrimage,” which was revived in the town south of Munich in 1983 after an 80-year break, takes place every year on the fourth Sunday in October. In wet weather on Sunday, participants huddled under umbrellas in their carriages.

Similar processions are held in several other southern German towns.

Russia’s dog-loving leader gets another puppy as gift

October 11, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Another summit, another dog. For the third time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been given a puppy as a gift. This one is a Central Asian Shepherd bestowed by the president of Turkmenistan on Wednesday.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov presented Putin with the puppy as a birthday gift. Putin, an avid dog lover, turned 65 over the weekend. Putin cuddled Verny, which is Russian for “loyal,” and kissed the pup on the head during a meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin previously received a Bulgarian shepherd named Buffy from Bulgaria’s premier and an Akita named Yume from a Japanese official. The Russian leader also has been given horses and even a tiger. Turkmenistan is a former Soviet republic.

Japan’s baby panda now has a name: Xiang Xiang, or fragrance

September 25, 2017

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s baby panda now has a name: Xiang Xiang, or fragrance. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced Monday that the 3-month-old giant panda is called Shan Shan in Japanese, or Xiang Xiang in Chinese.

The name, whose Chinese characters mean fragrance, was chosen from more than 320,000 suggestions and was approved by Chinese authorities. The Ueno Zoo in Tokyo says the panda is healthy and growing rapidly. She now weighs 6 kilograms (13 pounds) and measures 65 centimeters (26 inches) long, nearly twice as big as she was a month ago, according to the latest measurement marking the 100th day since birth.

Videos released last week showed the fluffy black-and-white cub crawling, and some teeth coming in. Xiang Xiang was born on June 12 to the zoo’s resident giant panda, Shin Shin.

Chinese president meeting Merkel, visiting pandas in Berlin

July 05, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel — and to check in on two giant pandas his country just sent to a Berlin zoo on loan. Xi’s visit Wednesday comes ahead of both leaders’ participation in the Group of 20 summit that begins Friday in Hamburg.

The leaders planned to talk over issues like trade and climate change and have lunch before heading to the zoo to see pandas Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, who arrived June 24. China on Tuesday also announced that it would allow liver cancer experts from Germany, the U.S. and other countries to join a medical team treating imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo — another issue that was likely to come up between Merkel and Xi.

Protest against bullfights in Pamplona before famed festival

July 01, 2017

PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — Around 400 people have protested bullfighting in Pamplona, a week before the city hosts its famed festival featuring dangerous bull runs. Holding signs that read in English “Bullfight Is Cruel” and “No Tradition Trumps Reason” in Spanish, the protesters marched Saturday through the city’s old quarter. The route included a stretch of the narrow streets that will be used for the bull runs that have made the San Fermin festival known worldwide.

Tens of thousands of partygoers from Spain and abroad come each year to Pamplona to witness or take part in the early morning bull runs, when crowds of runners risk being gored or trampled as they lead a pack of bulls to the ring where they will be used in bullfights.

The festival runs from July 6-14.

Berlin gives celebrity welcome to 2 giant pandas from China

June 24, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — Two giant pandas — Meng Meng and Jiao Qing — received a celebrity welcome Saturday in Berlin from the German capital’s mayor and the Chinese ambassador after they safely weathered a long flight from China.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing flew the animal equivalent of first class, getting royal treatment on their 12-hour-flight from Chengdu in southwestern China. Their entourage included a Berlin veterinarian, two Chinese zookeepers and a bunch of journalists.

“They slept a bit, munched on their bamboo and nibbled on some cookies,” veterinarian Andreas Ochs told reporters at Berlin’s Schoenefeld airport shortly after the arrival. Medication for motion sickness was not needed.

“They did just fine,” he said. The German capital is going nuts over the impossibly cute bears, who will be presented to the public at Berlin Zoo on July 6. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also expected to visit the new animal stars ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Germany in early July.

“It was my personal wish to come and welcome our new residents,” Mayor Michael Mueller said. “We are delighted that Berlin has gained another fantastic attraction with these bears.” Jiao Qing, which means “darling,” is a 7-year-old male and weighs 108 kilograms (238 pounds). Female Meng Meng, which translates as “sweet dream,” is three years old and weighs 77 kilograms (169 pounds).

The pandas were taken from the airport to the zoo with police protection so they didn’t have to stop at any red lights. They also brought their own food on the plane — one metric ton of bamboo from China. Once they’ve chewed up all of that, the zoo will start importing special bamboo from the Netherlands.

The furry couple will move into a ritzy new nine-million-euro ($10 million) compound, furbished with Chinese-style pavilions, red lanterns, a climbing area and a mountain landscape. They will be the only pandas in the country, the German news agency dpa reported.

Expectations are high the two will have babies soon, even though Ochs warned that Meng Meng is not yet sexually mature. The arrival of the black-and-white bears was preceded by yearslong bilateral negotiations, since giant pandas are unique to China and sent abroad as diplomatic envoys.

“In China, pandas are regarded as a national treasure,” Chinese ambassador Shi Mingde said. “Therefore the breeding and conservation of these animals is a top priority for us.” The pandas will be on loan from China for 15 years — a deal for which the Asian country is charging 1 million euros ($1.1 million) each year, dpa reported.

Berlin’s last panda, Bao Bao, was sent in 1980 as a gift from then-Chinese leader Hua Guofeng to West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Bao Bao died in 2012. Berlin’s most famous zoo animal, the polar bear Knut, died of a sudden illness in 2011.

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