Chinese giant panda experts and French zookeepers are working to ensure a panda cub’s survival after its twin died during the first-ever birth of the rare animal in France.
Images released on Saturday by the Beauval Zoo south of Paris show mother Huan Huan enveloping the cub and zoo handlers feeding it in an incubator with a small bottle.
The pink, hairless male weighing 142 grams is tiny compared to its 86kg mother. She gave birth to twins on Friday, but the firstborn was too weak to survive.
“She’s a very protective mother, which it makes it difficult” for the panda experts to check on the baby and supplement its feedings, said Delphine Delord, director of communications and educational programs at the zoo.
Two Chinese panda experts brought colostrum, or early breast milk, from panda mothers in China to help in the crucial first week, Delord said.
Panda births are closely watched because they remain rare – there are only about 1800 pandas in the wild in China and about 400 in captivity worldwide.
Zookeepers frequently need to help raise the cubs to ensure their survival.