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Giant panda at French zoo gives birth to twins that 'are very lively, pink and plump' 

A giant panda on loan to France from China gave birth to two female twin cubs early Monday, which, according to the French zoo, 'are very lively, pink and plump.'

The twins, weighing 5.3 and 4.6 ounces respectively, were born shortly after 1 am local time at the Beauval Zoo in south Paris.

Their mother, Huan Huan, and father, Yuan Zi, were sent to France in 2012 and are on a 10-year loan from China - a move that aims at highlighting good ties between the countries.

The twins are their second and third panda cubs born in France, after Yuan Meng was born in 2017.

'Huan Huan is taking care of them very well. She took them in her mouth to lick them and clean them. We can hear little cries,' the zoo said in a statement.

A giant panda on loan to France from China gave birth to two female twin cubs early Monday, which, according to the French zoo 'are very lively, pink and plump.' The mother, Huan Huan, is putting them in her mouth to lick them and clean them

The twins, weighing 5.3 and 4.6 ounces, were born shortly after 1am local time at the Beauval Zoo in south Paris

The zoo said the sex of the cubs were determined by the Chinese experts in charge of taking care of them but will need to be definitively confirmed since external genitalia does not appear until they are several months old.  

The cubs will not be named before 100 days. They will spend a few years in France before being sent to China, the zoo said.

Other nations in Europe also have giant pandas, including Austria, Britain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Finland.

There are about 1,800 pandas living in the wild in China and about 500 in captivity worldwide.

The zoo said the sex of the cubs were determined by the Chinese experts in charge of taking care of them but will need to be definitively confirmed since external genitalia does not appear until they are several months old

For decades, China gifted friendly nations with its unofficial national mascot in what was known as 'panda diplomacy.' More recently, the country has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

Panda reproduction, in captivity or in the wild, is notoriously difficult as experts say few pandas get in the mood or even know what to do when they do.

Further complicating matters, the window for conception is small since female pandas are in heat only once a year for about 24-48 hours.

Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi -the star attractions at Beauval - thrilled zoo officials in March when they managed to make 'contact', as they put it, eight times in a weekend.

The cubs will not be named before 100 days. They will spend a few years in France before being sent to China, the zoo said

Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi -the star attractions at Beauval - thrilled zoo officials in March when they managed to make 'contact', as they put it, eight times in a weekend

Veterinarians also carried out an artificial insemination, just to be sure. Pictured is one of the cubs hanging out of its mother's mouth

Veterinarians also carried out an artificial insemination, just to be sure.

'We just lived a moment of rare intensity. These births are always very exceptional but they also bring some surprises,' said Delphine Delord, director of the Beauval Zoo. 

Huan Huan's first cub, Yuan Meng, now weighs more than 220 pounds and is to be sent this year to China, where there are an estimated 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild and another 500 in captivity.

Huan Huan's newborns will not be named for 100 days, with Peng Liyuan - the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping - set to chose what they will be called, the zoo said.

Last December, Taiwan welcomed its own panda cub named Yuan Boa, which means 'round baby' in Chinese.

Pictured is one of the cubs being cared for by zoo staff

Last December, Taiwan welcomed its own panda cub named Yuan Boa, which means 'round baby' in Chinese. The cub was unveiled to some 150 guests and reporters for the first time since her birth on June 28 to Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan

The cub was unveiled to some 150 guests and reporters for the first time since her birth on June 28 to Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan.

The parents were gifted to the Taiwan zoo by China to mark then warming relations between to two rivalling countries.

Yuan Bao was seen clambering over a wooden fame and playing in sawdust as the audience watched from outside the cage. 

This cub was much older than the recent twins when it was first shown to the public,

In December, Yuan Boa weighed over 30 pounds, which was a major increase of its 6.5-ounce  birth weight.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day bring the self-ruled democratic island back into the fold, by force if necessary. 

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