France's playful baby panda makes public debut
PARIS (AP) - France's first baby panda has made his grand public entrance by acting like many 5-month-olds -- climbing all over his mother, who looked like she just wanted to rest instead.
Mostly hidden from view since his birth in August, the panda named Yuan Meng left his den on Saturday for his first public appearance.
BFM TV video showed him endlessly crawling over his mother, who at one point gathered the black-and-white ball of fur to her side before he escaped again to climb over her.
French first lady Brigitte Macron, considered the panda's "godmother," announced the panda's name at a ceremony in December at Beauval Zoo, south of Paris, attended by Chinese officials. It means "the realization of a wish" or "accomplishment of a dream."
According to the World Wildlife Fund, pandas were declared an endangered animal in the 1980s, but population numbers have grown due to conservation efforts. Female pandas are only fertile for a couple of days per year, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.
China has sent pandas to a dozen countries, with the animal being perceived as a sign of close diplomatic relations, reports BBC News.