By Ben Wheeler
ADORABLE images have captured the early stages of a cute baby giant panda’s development, from its first moments in the world to a thriving three-month old.
Heart-melting snaps from the birth see the baby, known as Mini Yuan Zi, sharing initial tender moments with its mother, who gently clasps the new-born in her mouth.
More recent photos of the now three-month-old show it’s developing relationship with the mother, named Huan Huan, whilst another shows the young cub being introduced to the outside world for the first time.
The photographs were taken at Beauval Zoo, Saint-Aignan, France by nature photographer, Eric Baccega, who has had privileged access behind the scenes at the zoo.
Mini Yuan Zi, is the first giant panda ever to be born in France after its parents arrived in the country from Chengdu, China in 2012.
He was born on a beautiful August night after Beauval’s staff had patiently waited for three years until Huan Huan and father, Yuan Zi, were ready to be introduced and mate.
However, after various attempts failed, Huan Huan was eventually artificially inseminated by the zoo’s veterinary team, assisted by a Chinese specialist in panda breeding.
Huan Huan quickly took to the newborn, keeping Mini Yuan Zi close to her heart to ensure the cub was warm in its first hours.
Whereas at the time of his birth, Mini Yuan Zi weighed little over 140g he now tips the scales at an impressive 7.65kg.
He opened his eyes for the first time in mid-September and is just starting to walk.