17 January 2012

Saint-Aignan now home to two pandas

Saint-Aignan's biggest news story these days is the arrival of two giant pandas from China at the ZooParc de Beauval, on the south side of town. The pandas are on loan for 10 years from China, and landed in Paris's CDG airport on Sunday for the three-hour drive down to the Cher Valley. They are the first pandas to take up residence in France since 1973.

I grabbed this photo from the Parisien.fr site
of the Paris newspaper Le Parisien.

Beauval's pandas, Huan Huan (« Joyeuse » in French) and Yuan Zi (« Rondouillard» or "Chubby"), won't be available for viewing by the grand public until February 11, but over the next two or three weeks they will receive a string of important visitors, including Président de la République Nicolas Sarkozy. Here's a link to a ZooParc de Beauval blog in French, and one in English.

Beauval, which is just about three kilometers from our house, is among the world's finest zoos. It covers 65 acres and has the largest collection of animals of any zoo in France. Beauval specializes in the preservation of species that are endangered around the world. In warm sunny weather, it's a great place to spend a day.

Here's a link to a 2007 post I did about the zoo, and here's another. with photos of some of the animals that live there. A friend in California — you might know her as chrissoup — told me that even the San Francisco Chronicle published an article about Saint-Aignan's pandas.


  1. I vaguely hear about this on the news last night. Did I understand right: Are they being rented at a rather high price?

  2. Reports are that the zoo paid 750,000 euros...

  3. Ken, I think that's per year for 10 years. I imagine the zoo thinks it'll be worth it. The whole idea is to beget little pandas, but I don't remember if they would belong to the zoo or to China.
    In any case, this will bring more visitors to the area. Even we will probably visit the zoo on occasion, with grandchildren.

  4. There was a great fuss when Edinburgh, Scotland took the FedEx delivery of their two pandas. Again the zoo hopes that the hugh cost will be recouped with extra paying visitors. Sadly one of them has colic and they both are unavailable to be viewed at the moment. Best of luck Beauval!

  5. Hope they settle in well; saw the report on their enclosure complete with pagoda on the news.

    The media circus surrounding the Edinburgh pandas was OTT: days of coverage on BBC, live reports outside zoo entrance, shots of FedEx plane -- without a panda in sight; etc etc...

  6. I have a dilemma in my feelings about zoos. Should wild animals be kept in zoos, are they kept sympathetically, bearing in mind where they should live, etc, etc. But I would still go and see the pandas for myself.

    One of the saddest things I ever saw was a lone white tiger in a glass enclosure with fake pond and rocks in a Las Vegas hotel. He looked like something from one of those old-fashioned scary movies about mental institutions, pacing up and down in a daze. Very sad and completley unjustifiable.

  7. Oh, I hope all goes well with those two Pandas :))

  8. Jean, I know what you mean, but before long there won't be any animals left in the wild. At least not big animals. So should humans try to save some of them, or just let them go. Either way, it's pretty sad. There are far too many people (and cars) on the planet.

    Ellen, 750K euros per year! Wow. I think as many as 500K or even more people visit Beauval every year, and the entry fee is more than 20 euros for each one of them. What's that, 10 million euros a year? One article said they expect 100K or more entry fees to be paid because of the pandas.

  9. I'm so glad we got to see your zoo, Ken. It's as good as any we've visited, including San Diego, DC, Cincinnati.
    The Chinese are really good at creating things we want. Pandas are nice to see, but gorillas are always my favorite.

    Sarko in the 'hood, eh? Maybe he'll visit your vineyard, lol.

  10. Who would have thought a place as small as Saint-Aignan would have a world famous zoo?

  11. The pandas have just made news on Australian breakfast television!

  12. We LOVED that zoo, and now there's even more reason to visit. That must be what that whole new Asian section of the park was being designed for--the arrival of the pandas. When we visited with Walt, there was only a lonely red panda in residence.


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