By Ben Wheeler
AMAZING behind the scenes images have emerged of birth of two baby pandas at Beauval Zoo in France, taken by French photographer Eric Baccega, who had privileged access to this unique event.
The adorable photographs, which offer a rare glimpse into the initial moments of these majestic animals’ lives also show mother panda, Huan Huan, frolicking in the grounds of her enclosure with her male counterpart, Yuan Zi, prior to the arrival of her new-borns, who she can be seen meeting for the first time, gently holding one of the youngsters in her mouth.
Other images by photographer Eric Baccega show one of the baby pandas being cared for in an incubator by zoo staff whilst being bottle fed as their mother was still not producing milk upon their arrival.
The births marked the end of a three year wait for staff Beauval to see the arrival of the pair of giant pandas, which are also the first ever to be born in France.
However, the occasion was not as joyous as it could have been.
With Huan Huan devoting herself to caring for the second born and stronger of her two babies, as is customary in the wild, it was left to the zoo’s vet, Baptiste Mulot, to try and keep the first-born and weaker of the two youngsters alive.
After two hours spent doing all he could, the baby panda passed away, too weak to survive and suffering from stomach bruising.
It is understood that the second baby, a male, is in good health since its birth and is being well looked after by Huan Huan, under the watchful eye of keepers who are providing 24-hour supervision.
Delphine Delord, head of communications at Beauval Zoo Park said; “We are moved and sad at not having been able to save the first baby, but happy to welcome a baby panda to France and are very focused on his welfare.”
In accordance with protocol, the first lady of China from where Huan Huan and Yuan Zi descend, Peng Liyuan, will officially name the youngster, whilst French first lady, Brigitte Macron will take the title of ‘godmother’.