In 2012, Huan Huan and Yuan Zi arrived in France, expected and received as heads of state! Our two giant pandas, treasures of the Middle Kingdom, landed on the tarmac of Roissy and were welcomed by His Excellency the Ambassador of China and 150 journalists, after a direct trip from Chengdu, in a Boeing 777F specially chartered by FedEx. An extraordinary arrival for extremely rare animals, threatened with extinction in the wild and which would become the Stars of Beauval, under the tender glances of the French, who will quickly become very fond of this so cute animal!
China’s national treasure, pandas are only entrusted to very few zoos in the world: 23 to be precise, outside China. To house pandas, negotiations are made at the highest level and everything is decided between heads of state. The President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy at that time, made himself the request to his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, supported by the whole French diplomatic corps... For France, the reception of pandas on its soil represents the excellency of the relationships between the two states.
Meanwhile, Beauval was getting in touch with its Chinese counterparts: the panda base of Chengdu (the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, in the Sichuan region, from which our pandas come) and the Chinese Association of Zoological Parks (CAZG). Veterinary exchanges, internships of several weeks on site for the future keepers and managers of the panda sector, meetings between the Delord family and the director of Chengdu, round-trips between the two continents: everything was made to show our drive to welcome this emblematic animal, a universal symbol for the conservation movement. Beauval has demonstrated its zoological excellency, its skills concerning the breeding of rare and fragile species, the quality of its facilities and collaborators...
One year before the arrival of the pandas, Beauval build a facility for them, that became a reference within the zoological world. Vast outside areas, inside and air-conditioned spaces, night boxes, a future nursery... everything is made for the well-being of those animals, so endangered in their ecosystem. Our Chinese counterparts came and visited the facility: they declared it “one of the most beautiful in the world...outside China”. Beauval is really proud!
For the pleasure of the visitors, the hills of the Loir-et-Cher department became covered with glazed tile-roofed pagodas, stone sculptures and emblematic marble lions, created by the dexterity of the craftsmen of Shanghai and Beijing. A total immersion within the Middle Kingdom... but still no pandas!
December, 2011: Rodolphe and Delphine Delord fly to China to sign the welcome protocol: reception at the France Embassy, exchanges about the protection of giant pandas, arrival date scheduled for January 2012.
FedEx then provided us a great logistical and technical support: they chartered a Boeing 777F, the FedEx Panda Express, specially for Huan Huan and Yuan Zi, made their tarmac available, welcomed the 150 journalists and loaned two trucks to transport our precious plantigrades from Roissy to Beauval!
January 15th, 2012: Rodolphe Delord lands with the two star animals on board of the FedEx Panda Express.
They then headed towards Beauval, accompanied by a police escort. A jubilant crowd cheered the pandas on their way inside Saint Aignan sur Cher and on the outskirts of the zoo...without being able to see a bit of a panda ear: the pair peacefully reached its private quarters, accompanied by the two Chinese animal keepers who came specially for them.
The doors of the “Hills of China” only opened in February, and thousands of visitors rushed to see the two bears… In 2012, Beauval welcomed one million people!
The giant panda is a highly emblematic species: China’s national treasure, international symbol of the conservation movement, standard-bearer species of the threat which hang over biodiversity… Through them, we can tackle the subjects of biodiversity protection, of the damaging of natural habitats and the necessity to preserve the environment. Touched by the beauty of this animal, our visitors hear our message.
Through our association, Beauval Nature, we work directly on field: more than 40 conservation programs are carried out, financed, supported every year. Some research and ethology programs are also led. Africa, South America, Asia: the list of endangered species and damaged habitats lengthens. Thanks to you, to your support through symbolic adoptions or donations, we can act efficiently.
The panda cub we were so eagerly waiting for since Huan Huan and Yuan Zi arrived in the ZooParc de Beauval finally came into the world!
Pandas are, in general, solitary animals which only join their fellow creatures during the mating period. Since the female is only receptive during a very short time (24 to 48 hours!), it was essential to be reactive while bringing together our two bears. After several infructuous mating attempts, the veterinary staff of Beauval has decided to carry out an artificial insemination (with semen from Yuan Zi), in order to pull all the chances on the side of our pandas.
Weighing 142 grams (5 ounces) and measuring only a few centimetres, our panda cub, nicknamed Mini Yuan Zi back then, was born on August 4, 2017. He received his official name on December 4, 2017, in the presence of his godmother, Mrs. Brigitte Macron. Yuan Meng can be seen in the area “On the Hills of China” * from 9:00am to 4:30pm.
* In case of veterinary care, he may not be visible in his inside area. We are not able to foresee these periods. Thank you in advance for your understanding.