Double trouble: Berlin’s panda twins get set for public debut

Two panda cubs born at Berlin Zoo last year charmed local media on Wednesday, a day before their debut in front of the general public.

Double trouble: Berlin's panda twins get set for public debut
The two panda cubs playing in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Five-month-old males Meng Xiang and Meng Yuan, whose names mean “long-awaited dream” and “dream come true”, were seen climbing over boulders as they explored their enclosure, watched by their mother Meng Meng and members of the press

The two cuddly cubs were the first pandas to be born in a German zoo, and have been nicknamed “Pit” and “Paule” by their carers.

The births were particularly rare as it is notoriously hard to breed pandas.

The zoo is expecting a surge in visitors when the pandas are put on public display for the first time on Thursday.

Zoo directors are planning to open more ticket desks to avoid long queues, and have arranged for security personnel to guard the panda enclosure.

Alongside their parents Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, the twins are the only pandas currently visible in Germany.

Meng Yuan and Meng Xiang being taken into their enclosure for the first time. Photo: DPA

READ ALSO: Boy oh boy! Two male pandas make debut at Berlin zoo

On loan from China, the panda couple had arrived in Berlin in June 2017 to great fanfare.

Famed for its “panda diplomacy”, China has dispatched its national treasure to only about a dozen countries as a symbol of close relations.

Berlin Zoo pays $15 million (13.4 million euros) for a 15-year contract to host the two adult pandas, with most of the money going towards a conservation and breeding research programme in China.

While the cubs were born in Berlin, they remain Chinese and must be returned to China within four years after they have been weaned.

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Two surviving monkeys from deadly German zoo fire ‘doing well’

Two chimpanzees who survived a fire which killed 30 monkeys on New Year's Eve at the Krefeld zoo are doing well under medical care, reported the zoo on Monday.

Two surviving monkeys from deadly German zoo fire 'doing well'
The chimpanzee Bally on Monday, six days after the fire at the Krefeld zoo. Photo: DPA

There was a shock on New Year’s Eve when an accidental fire caused by sky lanterns took the lives of nearly all animals at Krefeld’s zoo in western Germany.

READ ALSO: Lanterns reportedly behind deadly New Year’s Eve fire at German zoo

But two chimpanzees, Bally and Limbo, survived the blaze and are now being cared for in the zoo’s medical division, reported the zoo in a Facebook post on Monday. 

The photo shows the West African chimpanzee Bally reaching into a haystack with his left hand. 

The burns from the night of the fire are clearly visible on his nose, mouth and ear. The two apes are also said to have suffered burns on their hands and feet. 

“But their coat is completely preserved,” wrote the zoo under the picture. “Both are eating and drinking well.”

'Emotional support'

Within the next few days Bally and Limbo are slated to move to a section of the zoo’s Gorilla Garden which is not visible to the public. 

“We feel that the care provided by the familiar keepers also gives them emotional support,” said the Krefeld Zoo. “That is why there are no concrete plans for a change of location.”

There will be no urn burial site for the deceased monkeys on the zoo grounds in order to respect the wishes of zookeepers. 

However, there are plans to establish a memorial site for them in the future, said the zoo.

Shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve last Tuesday, a fire killed 30 monkeys at the Zoo Krefeld, which has been open since 1975 and specializes in primates.

A 60-year-old woman and her two adult daughters had accidentally started the fire with sky lanterns, which are illegal in Germany, said investigators. 

Only the two chimpanzees survived, as well as a family of gorillas in a nearby building.

Local prosecutors are now investigating the women for negligent arson, a crime which can be punished with up to five years in prison.

READ ALSO: Mother and daughters investigated over German zoo fire