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A baby panda at Pairi Daiza !

Hao-Hao and his baby.

It has been expected for several months despite the caution shown by the Pairi Daiza Park in its press release. But now it's official: the female giant panda, Hao Hao, has given birth to a little male panda, to the delight of Park managers and visitors. The cub was born at 2.02 a.m. and weighed 117 grams. Mother and baby are doing well.

This was the Park's announcement on social media : "Pairi Daiza and the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda are thrilled to announce the birth during the night of a baby giant panda at Pairi Daiza"

"Hao Hao picked her baby up from birth in her mouth, showing that she has accepted it,” said Tim Bouts, the Pairi Daiza Zoo Director. "The baby has started to feed on its mother's milk. He has already had the maternal colostrum twice, not naturally initially for safety reasons. He weighed 171 grams at birth. He is left with his mother most of the time but is also regularly placed in an incubator. Admittedly, there is a still a period of a risk of disease or milk problems, but our teams, backed up by Chinese specialists, expect to be able to deal with this."

The Park has not yet named the baby but has already said that it will be given a Chinese name.

Visitors must be patient

This happy event should bring more visitors rushing to see the new-born panda at the Park, which is already attracts large numbers of people. They will just have to be patient, however, and no date has yet been set by Paria Daiza for visits to begin. The situation will depend on the development and state of health of the baby.

The new-born will return to China at the age of four under the agreement between the park and the country. It is rare for a panda to be born in an animal park: about thirty viable babies are born every year, a total of 242 since 2008. According to the Pairi Daiza management, Hao Hao's baby is the first baby to be born outside China this year. The giant panda is an endangered species and there are only two thousand left on Earth. Every birth is therefore a real blessing for scientists and nature lovers. In 20 years, only two countries have successfully seen the birth of a baby panda in captivity, with Chinese assistance - Austria and Spain. And, since this morning, Belgium !