His little black-and-white face made it to the front page of Parisien, Today in France. Yuan Meng, the first panda cub born in France on August 4, 2017, will he soon have a younger brother and/or younger sister? “We hope to give him this wonderful Christmas present,” smiles Delphine Delord, whose brother Rodolphe runs the Beauval Zoo (Loire-et-Cher).
Huan Huan, Yuan Meng’s mother, had just been artificially pregnant. “We had the first insemination on Monday evening at around 9 pm, and the second one this Tuesday at 5 am,” explains the director of the zoo’s pedagogical department, where Huang Huan (“Happy” in Mandarin) and Yuan Zi have been living since 2012. Roundouillard is the first pair of pandas loaned by China to France.
VIDEO. Zoo de Beauval: female panda Huan Huan artificially inseminated
“When we realized Juan Juan was in heat this weekend, our head veterinarian immediately returned from Brittany. We decided to introduce her to the Yuan Zi man. We did it five times, she says, but it didn’t work. Reproduction in pandas is known to be an acrobatic affair. The female is only fertile two days a year… So when that happens, you shouldn’t miss the boat.
Alas, the males are clumsy! And again, the meeting between Ronduillard and Joyeuse did not lead to anything. Madam’s voices failed to sublimate Mr. Panda’s efforts, even if the meeting was quite friendly. “Previous contacts were stormy, there were signs of aggression. There they played together, rubbed against each other, but, unfortunately, to no avail,” says Delfin Delord.
Therefore, the decision was made to put the man to sleep for 45 minutes to obtain a semen sample. The female was then anesthetized for 30 minutes for insemination. “They woke up fine. A priori, this did not bother them,” says the chief veterinarian Baptis Myulo, who therefore resumed the operation on Tuesday morning in order to “multiply the chances of pregnancy”.
50% chance of success
A course that we know well in Beauval and is littered with uncertainties. Yuan Meng, the first panda born in France, whose name means “Dream come true”, is also already the result of artificial insemination after the first failed attempt in 2016. So, will this work, right?
“We won’t know until May or July,” explains Delphine Delord. Only three weeks before the birth, we find out if the conception was successful, and we start the ultrasound. Warning signs appear when the female begins to change her behavior. She begins, in particular, to make a crib for her baby, gnawing pieces of wood. »
Why such a long period of uncertainty? Because of what is called embryonic diapause. Like female mice or kangaroos, female pandas, unlike humans, have the ability to delay the onset of pregnancy if they deem the moment unfavorable for their unborn baby. To do this, her body prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. For Baptiste Mulot, a veterinarian, the chances of success are about 50%. And if it works, maybe twins. In pandas, this happens in one of two births.
On August 4, 2017, when Yuan Meng was born at 10:32 pm, all pink, no hair on the stone, 121 g, another panda cub appeared in front of him a quarter of an hour ago, but it was not viable. “If we had two this time, it would be great,” smiles Delphine Delord. Because Yuan Meng is not destined to stay on French soil: “He will return to China to be released there,” she recalls. His parents are expected to return home in 2022.
VIDEO. Little panda’s first birthday cake
Last month, Emmanuel Macron, who visited Beijing, wished his colleague Xi Jinping that France could save a pair of pandas. “At the moment, the Chinese have not given their answer,” explains Delphine Delord, who hopes to keep “their stars.”