France’s first panda cub makes debut appearance

Panda cub Yuan Meng, which means “the realization of a wish” or “accomplishment of a dream,” eats bamboos with her mother Huan Huan at the Beauval Zoo, in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, France, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.(AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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France’s first panda cub makes debut appearance

SAINT-AIGNAN: France’s first panda cub made its debut public appearance Saturday, five months after its birth, to rapturous crowds — some of whom had traveled hours to see the fluffy male.
Yuan Meng, which means “making a dream come true” in Chinese, was introduced into his new enclosure in Beauval zoo in central France along with his mother as adoring onlookers ringed the site.
“We got up at 3:00 in the morning. My son absolutely wanted to see the cub,” said Delphine who had traveled from the Paris region.
“We felt we took part in a historic moment. It was very moving,” she said.
Zoo veterinarian Baptiste Mulot said the cub had been brought to the enclosure over the past 10 days to familiarise himself with the surroundings.
Panda reproduction, in captivity or in the wild, is notoriously difficult because the female panda is only in heat once a year for about 48 hours.
But the number of pandas worldwide has rebounded since the black-and-white bear was declared an endangered animal in the 1980s, thanks to efforts to protect it and its habitat.
China has dispatched its national treasure to only about a dozen countries, using the animal as a symbol of close relations.
A female and male mate arrived in Beauval in 2012 after high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing, but Yuan Meng was born through artificial insemination.


Malaysia mosque bans tourists after ‘sexy dance’ goes viral

Updated 29 min 27 sec ago
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Malaysia mosque bans tourists after ‘sexy dance’ goes viral

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian mosque has banned tourists after a video of two female visitors in skimpy outfits dancing in front of the Muslim holy site went viral online.
The pair, of East Asian appearance and believed to be foreigners, were filmed doing the dance in skimpy shorts and tops exposing their midriffs on a wall outside the main mosque in the city of Kota Kinabalu, a popular site for visitors and tour groups.
Residents and local Muslim groups were incensed by the risqué moves outside the holy site on Borneo island, which is renowned for its huge blue and gold dome and ornate minarets.
An outraged onlooker can be heard in the video saying: “Why don’t they just fall off the wall?”
Mosque chairman Jamal Sakaran at the weekend slammed “the unacceptable behavior by foreign tourists” and announced a temporary halt to any tourists visiting the mosque in Sabah state, adding the move was to preserve the sanctity of Islam.
The nationality of the women involved was not clear.
State Tourism Minister Christina Liew told The Star newspaper legal action would not be taken against the pair as they were likely unaware of the severity of their actions. But authorities wanted to track them down to explain “that something they deemed as ‘fun’ was actually disrespectful and not right in Sabah.”
Large numbers of tourists — both local and foreign — visit the mosque, often during a brief stop in Kota Kinabalu before heading into the jungles of Sabah to see the jungle-clad state’s abundance of wildlife.
Tourists can usually visit mosques in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where most practice a moderate form of Islam, but are advised to wear modest clothing.
It is not the first time that foreign visitors have landed in hot water for disrespecting local culture in Sabah.
In 2015 four Western tourists pleaded guilty to obscenity charges for taking nude photos on popular peak Mount Kinabalu, an act some in the country blamed for causing a deadly earthquake.