|Three panda ambassadors, or "Pambassadors", Jerome Pouille (R) from France, Chen Yinrong (C) from China, and Melissa Katz from the United States, pose for photos during the Global Panda Conservation Tour activity in Beauval zoo in France, Sept. 20, 2013. The three "Pambassadors" arrived at the Beauval zoo in France Friday to visit two giant pandas, Huan Huan and Yuan Zai, putting a perfect full stop to their global tour aimed at promoting panda conservation. (Xinhua/Chen Xiaowei)
PARIS, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Bathing in the sunshine of an autumn afternoon, panda ambassador Jerome Pouille, a 32-year-old French biologist, finally footed himself on the soil of the Beauval Zoo in central France.
At the zoo, he had an intimate contact with two giant pandas, sharing love and knowledge of panda with audiences and fans.
"It is quite an honor to be a Pambassador, which has offered me the opportunities to see many pandas and to get to know their living conditions and environments," Jerome said in an interview with Xinhua.
The biologist has developed his passion for pandas since his childhood. He often comes to see Huan Huan and Yuan Zai, two giant pandas on loan from the Chengdu city in China's Sichuan Province, the hometown of giant pandas.
Jerome is the lucky one. At the age of 16, he was brought by his parents to Vincennes Zoo, where for the first time he met panda Yan Yan, the only panda at that time in France, on loan in 1970s and died of old age in 2000.
His love for the cute animals motivated him to create a website on giant pandas in 2002 to introduce the endangered species to the world. His love, knowledge and care for pandas made him a right person to speak up for pandas.
In last year's global contests for Pambassadors, Jerome and two other fellow candidates, Chinese fashion magazine editor Erica Chen Yinrong and American hockey coach Melissa Katz, beat some 1.16 million competitors to win the "cute job" of raising public awareness of the need to protect giant pandas.
The trio of ambassadors embarked on their Global Tour for the Conservation of Pandas on Aug. 23 from Hong Kong. They have visited a dozen of cities hosting pandas in the world, with highlights in Singapore, Atlanta, Washington, Edinburgh and the last destination, Beauval.
Friday afternoon, the three Pambassadors went to greet Huan Huan and Yuan Zai at the zoo, where a large garden named China Zone was specially built for the two giant pandas, covering an area of 2.5 hectares.
Besides greeting pandas, the three young people never forgot their job. They took photos for Huan Huan and Yuan Zai at their cozy enclosure, and posed to the cameras with the two dear pandas, drew and signed on the glass wall to express their love and care for them.
They also had active interactions with zoo visitors, talking with Chinese and French curators and panda fans, exchanging with them ideas on how to keep pandas, and introducing to them their findings and experiences gained from their global tour.
They were also joined by panda fans to visit the Xinhua Photo Gallery in the zoo under the theme of Pandas and Pambassadors, which helps people better understand pandas and their living habits, and informs the fans of the ways of protecting pandas and other endangered animal species as well as their habitats.
"It is so great to see that the two pandas living so well in such a fancy enclosure, as the fellow countryman from the pandas' hometown Chengdu, we truly appreciated what the zoo managers and curators have done for them," said Qu Jing, a young lady from the Chengdu panda base after touring around the park of pandas.
Francoise Delord, founder of the Beauval zoo, said that since her first sight of panda in Washington, she fell in love with the dear animal.
During the past 10 years, she had travelled many times to China, exploring any possibilities to bring pandas to France. She is so familiar with Huan Huan and Yuan Zai that she can easily identify one from the other only by judging from the black circles around their eyes.
"My goal is to make a happy life for animals so that they can grow up smoothly," she told Xinhua.
Pambassador Chen said, "We adore pandas because they are cute, but the tour teaches me much more and pushes me to do more for pandas."
"I have many things in mind and we need to translate our talks into actions so that they can reach more people," Chen said.
She said she would like to come closer to kids by publishing some photo or picture brochures and giving them the vivid image of pandas. She also wants to make children believe that anyone can be the conservation Pambassadors if they dedicate to it.
After the global tour, the three Pambassadors will use what they have learned from the tour to work continuously for the conservation of the endangered animal. They also plan to post online photos they took so as to help more people get to know the pandas hosted in different parts of the world and how they are cared and loved by global fans.