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French zoo's baby panda tumbles and cuddles in its public debut

France's five-month-old panda made its public debut on Saturday, delighting hundreds of visitors as it crawled, tumbled and cuddled with his mother.

The small male cub, survivor of two babies born on August 4 at Beauval zoo about 250 km south of Paris, was baptised last month as Yuan Meng by his "Godmother", French First Lady Brigitte Macron.

A media sensation in France, Yuan Meng's recent visitors include French President Emmanuel Macron and former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The cub lost his twin sibling barely two hours after their August births, which were firsts in France.

The arrival of the panda parents in France back in 2012 was billed in official circles as a sign of warming bilateral ties.

Visitors at Beauval Zoo on Saturday said they were emotional to see Yuan Meng for the first time, having tracked his milestones since his parents' arrival. One visitor said they were up to date when his first teeth came out, when he first opened his eyes, and when different spots appeared on his fur.

Mother Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi are due to return to China in 2022 while the young panda is expected to stay in France until the age of two or three.

The cub, weighing in at 142.4 grams at birth, opened his eyes for the first time in mid-September and weighed 11 kilos as of January 13, the Beauval zoo director said.

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