Orleans (AFP)

Huan Huan, the female panda loaned by China to the Beauval ZooParc (Loir-et-Cher), is once again pregnant, the zoo announced to AFP on Tuesday.

"The ultrasound a few hours ago confirmed the presence of a panda embryo in our female Huan Huan," a zoo spokesperson said.

"The veterinary teams have finally seen what they were hoping for: a tiny baby panda embryo" measuring 1.74 cm long.

According to the zoo, the birth is expected to take place in late July or early August.

Ultrasounds must now continue twice a week, if Huan Huan is cooperative with the vets.

At this stage of gestation, the female panda tries to sleep as much as possible, eating "less and less" until giving birth.

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At the end of March, the two giant pandas, Huan Huan and Yuan Zi, one of the Beauval Zoo's main attractions, had tried to mate, under the watchful eye of veterinarians and caretakers.

Artificial insemination was also carried out as a precaution, the female panda being fertile only 24 to 48 hours per year.

Thanks to this technique, Huan Huan had already given birth to Yuan Meng on August 4, 2017. Aged 4, the first panda born in France now weighs more than one hundred kilograms.

Since 2016, giant pandas are no longer "in danger" of extinction on the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

However, the species remains "vulnerable".

About 500 pandas in captivity and 2,000 in the wild live in China.

© 2021 AFP