What will happen to Juan Juan’s panda twins after birth?

Juan Juan is definitely playing for time. At the Beauval Zoo in Saint-Aignan (Loire-et-Cher), we still see no signs, in particular of a drop in testosterone levels, which would indicate that a female panda provided by China is about to give birth to twins. .

Enough to make everyone in the Beauval Zoo slightly feverish. The event will be closely monitored. Because it’s the first time in France. Because everything related to the panda, the real treasure of China, of which there are only 1864 individuals left in the wild, turns into media frenzy. Think back to the arrival in France in 2012 with great fanfare of Huang Huan and his evil friend Yuan Zi aboard a specially chartered Boeing 777.

Out of sight for the first few weeks

At birth, media coverage will be different. Don’t expect, for example, to immediately see two toddlers frolicking in front of a crowd. Juan Juan and her children will stay for a few weeks without showing themselves to the public. “It is very important that she can be alone with her child, without stress, out of sight,” she recalled last week in 20 minutesAntoine Leclerc, veterinarian at the Beauval Zoo, when it was only about one cub.

A new ultrasound revealed that Huang Huan was expecting twins, further complicating the situation. In nature, in the case of the birth of twins, the mother usually refuses one of the two, the weaker one, her weak constitution does not allow her to raise two different babies. To save two babies, one will be placed in an incubator and the other will be entrusted to the mother, and the positions will change every two hours.

First walk at the age of two to three months

However, giant screens at the zoo will broadcast the first weeks of panda cubs with Juan Juan. “From Monday, we will broadcast every day stories of what is happening interesting,” says one of the communications department of the zoo Beauval. Then, after two or three months, they should make their first entry into the enclosure. Don’t wait too long if you want to see them. Soon two babies will leave the territory of France.

“This separation is inevitable,” says Jérôme Puy, a big giant panda enthusiast to whom he dedicated a news site. In the natural state, the baby is raised by the mother until one and a half, or even two years. Then he separates from him and goes in search of his own territory. In captivity, zoos try to mimic this natural rhythm. »

Destination very fast Chengdu

Then Jérôme Puy put forward two hypotheses: “Either the young panda returns directly to China at the age of two, or the zoo is able to create a space for it that we can imagine in Beauval because the zoo is big enough. Then, in the park, it would probably be possible to keep small children together until the age of four. »

But in any case, the destination is the same. The two unborn cubs remain the property of China and are destined to join the giant panda breeding research center in Chengdu, where their parents Huang Huan and Yuan Zi are from. “They will be included in the captive breeding program,” continues Jérôme Pouillet. They will take part in mating with the opposite sex as soon as they are old enough. Either about six or seven years. »

Perhaps the two cubs will be loaned to a new zoo while they wait for them to reach puberty. Jérôme Puy does not rule out such a possibility. “But then they are leased to Chinese zoos, they don’t leave the territory anymore,” he continues. None of the pandas born outside China to date have left the country after being repatriated there. »

“They can’t be free”

And one day find freedom? “Impossible,” replies Jerome Pouillet. China has started programs to reintroduce pandas to the wild, but baby pandas are being born in semi-natural conditions in China. That is, in enclosures ten times larger than Beauval’s, and where they live only with their mother without human contact. »

Juan Juan’s two babies will be too saturated with man to ever be released into the wild. The Brigitte Bardot Foundation published a press release this Friday. “That’s how it goes, there’s a group of pandas whose lives are meant to be kept in captivity, to do conservation education, awareness, research…,” replies Jérôme Pouille.

Diplomats too

The two babies will also help perpetuate the famous panda diplomacy of having China use a plantigrade as a gift of prestige to initiate or maintain international relations. Since the time of Mao Zedong, giant pandas have become diplomats in their own right.

After 1990 and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) classification as endangered, China is no longer giving, but “borrowing” its pandas, Francetvinfo recalled last July in an article on this panda diplomacy. And this lease is expensive. For Huang Huan and Yuan Zi, loaned out in 2012 for a period of twelve years, the Beauval zoo will pay 750,000 euros per year, according to estimates that the Loir-et-Cher zoo does not confirm.

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