Berlin Zoo confirms panda Meng Meng is pregnant

Berlin's beloved panda Meng Meng is expecting a cub, the zoo announced on Tuesday.

Berlin Zoo confirms panda Meng Meng is pregnant
Meng Meng the panda in Berlin. Photo: DPA

“We are delighted with the news,” said Berlin Zoo director Andreas Knieriem after an ultrasound scan confirmed the pregnancy.

Berlin Zoo says the size of the foetus and the results of hormonal analysis suggest the birth will take place within a fortnight.

The zoo tweeted the good news, showing an ultrasound picture of the “mini panda”. 

Meng Meng, which means 'Little Dream', and her mate Jiao Qing, 'Little Treasure', have been living in Berlin Zoo since 2017.

Their arrival in the German capital was greeted by both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

READ ALSO: The diva and the dude: A year of Berlin's beloved pandas

They are the only pandas currently in Germany, housed in an enclosure that cost nine million euros.

“Every birth of an endangered species like pandas is a great gift,” added Knieriem, who pointed out how difficult it is to breed pandas.

Meng Meng in Berlin Zoo in October 2018. Photo: DPA

Meng Meng was artificially inseminated, to increase the chances of conceiving, after the pandas mated.

Under China's 'panda diplomacy', the animals, considered national treasures, are effectively on loan to other countries.

Any panda cubs born abroad must be returned to China within four years, after they have been weaned.

China has sent giant pandas to only a dozen countries, including France, where a baby cub, Yuan Meng, was born last year and turned one this month.

Baby fever

And Meng Meng is not the only animal eyeing up parenthood in the zoo in recent weeks. A gay penguin couple, who tried to hatch a stone, have adopted an egg.

READ ALSO: Gay penguins in Berlin adopt egg after trying to hatch a stone

It's not clear yet if the egg has been fertilized, but Skipper and Ping have been caring for the egg in their bid to become parents.  


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Fluffy nuisance: Outcry as Paris sends Invalides rabbits into exile

Efforts to relocate wild rabbits that are a common sight on the lawns of the historic Invalides memorial complex have provoked criticism from animal rights groups.

Fluffy nuisance: Outcry as Paris sends Invalides rabbits into exile

Tourists and Parisians have long been accustomed to the sight of wild rabbits frolicking around the lawns of Les Invalides, one of the French capital’s great landmarks.

But efforts are underway to relocate the fluffy animals, accused of damaging the gardens and drains around the giant edifice that houses Napoleon’s tomb, authorities said.

Police said that several dozen bunnies had been captured since late January and relocated to the private estate of Breau in the Seine-et-Marne region outside Paris, a move that has prompted an outcry from animal rights activists.

“Two operations have taken place since 25 January,” the police prefecture told AFP.

“Twenty-four healthy rabbits were captured on each occasion and released after vaccination” in Seine-et-Marne, the prefecture said.

Six more operations are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

Around 300 wild rabbits live around Les Invalides, according to estimates.

“The overpopulation on the site is leading to deteriorating living conditions and health risks,” the prefecture said.

Authorities estimate the cost of restoring the site, which has been damaged by the proliferation of underground galleries and the deterioration of gardens, pipes and flora, at €366,000.

Animal rights groups denounced the operation.

The Paris Animaux Zoopolis group said the rabbits were being subjected to “intense stress” or could be killed “under the guise of relocation”.

“A number of rabbits will die during capture and potentially during transport,” said the group, accusing authorities of being “opaque” about their methods.

The animal rights group also noted that Breau was home to the headquarters of the Seine-et-Marne hunting federation.

The police prefecture insisted that the animals would not be hunted.

In 2021, authorities classified the rabbits living in Paris as a nuisance but the order was reversed following an outcry from animal groups who have been pushing for a peaceful cohabitation with the animals.