January 29, 2020 / 4:25 PM / a month ago

Slipping and sliding, first Germany-born panda cubs greet outside world

A handout photo shows twin panda cubs Meng Yuan (nicknamed Paule) and Meng Xiang (nicknamed Pit) in Berlin Zoo, Germany, January 21, 2020. Picture taken January 21, 2020. Berlin Zoo/Handout via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s only giant panda cubs took their first clumsy steps in public on Wednesday, climbing over branches and crawling on their bellies in Berlin Zoo as the world’s media looked on.

Zoo keepers carried twins Meng Yuan and Meng Xiang into a glass enclosure strewn with branches, logs and rocks. Keen to explore, the twins slipped and slid around their new territory while mother Meng Meng, looked relaxed, munched bamboo in a corner.

Nicknamed Pit and Paule and each weighing about 10 kg (22 lb), the twins were born on Aug. 31, about two years after Meng Meng was loaned to Germany from China.

Zoo Director Andreas Knieriem said he was pleased with their progress. “The most difficult phase was the first month, where we needed to be extra careful because there is a danger of infectious diseases coming from outside,” he said.

Under the loan deal, the twins will return to China when they are about four years old and able to live without their mother.

There are just 1,864 adult giant pandas living in the wild, according to World Wildlife Fund estimates, and the loan fee the zoo has paid goes towards conservation work for the species.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; editing by John Stonestreet

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