At least one of them is happy! Queen of Spain enjoys a cuddle with a panda cub... but it seems less pleased to be squeezed!

  • The baby giant panda was born in August at Zoo Aquarium in Madrid

By Nick Enoch

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This little panda cub may be only three months old but it has already got an interesting picture for the family album - even if it does look a little awkward.

Today, the cute bear received a regal hug from Queen Sofia of Spain at Zoo Aquarium in Madrid.

The cub, who has not been named yet, sat on Sofia's lap and seemed a bit uncomfortable as she squeezed. But maybe it was just star-struck.

Go easy on the squeeze... Queen Sofia of Spain cuddles the baby panda during her visit to Zoo Aquarium in Madrid

Go easy on the squeeze... Queen Sofia of Spain cuddles the baby panda during her visit to Zoo Aquarium in Madrid today

She's a queen? Why didn't you say so. Here's my star-struck look: People can log on to the zoo's Facebook page to choose a name for the cub

She's a queen? Why didn't you say so. Here's my star-struck look: People can log on to the zoo's Facebook page to choose a name for the cub

You gotta sort out my identity crisis: By December 2, the baby will have a name, from one of the five choices: De Mao, De Fu, Xi Fu, De Bao or Xing Bao

You gotta sort out my identity crisis: By December 2, the baby will have a name, from one of the five choices: De Mao, De Fu, Xi Fu, De Bao or Xing Bao

This is not the first time the 75-year-old wife of King Juan Carlos has met the endangered animals.

In September 2007, she opened the refurbished panda enclosure at the zoo upon the arrival of Bing Xing and Hua Zuiba - the proud parents of the new cub.

 

And in 2010, she returned to see seven-month-olds Po and De De, the third time pandas had bred in European zoos at that time.

Internet users have until December 2 to vote for the name of the new baby - which was born on August 30 - via the zoo's Facebook page.

In September 2007, Sofia opened the refurbished panda enclosure at the zoo upon the arrival of Bing Xing and Hua Zuiba - the proud parents of the new cub
In September 2007, Sofia opened the refurbished panda enclosure at the zoo upon the arrival of Bing Xing and Hua Zuiba - the proud parents of the new cub

In September 2007, Sofia opened the refurbished panda enclosure at the zoo upon the arrival of Bing Xing and Hua Zuiba - the proud parents of the new cub

The five choices are De Mao, De Fu, Xi Fu, De Bao and Xing Bao.

The pandas will live in Madrid for ten years as a part of an International Conservation Cooperation Project between China and Spain.

The joint project was a goodwill gesture promised by the Chinese government during a visit by Queen Sofia to China in June 2007.

Like Britain's Queen, Sofia is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria — she is a great-great-great-granddaughter - and the two are cousins.

 

Is the giant panda actually Spanish?

Scientists now believe the origins of the giant panda lineage may lie not in China but Spain.

Last November, two fossils, dating back 11.6million years, were unearthed in northeast Spain - and are thought to be of the oldest recorded ancestor of the species.

The two sets of jaws and teeth belong to a new genus, Kretzoiarctos ('bears of Kretzoi') - in honour of paleontologist Miklos Kretzoi, who had discovered other extinct pandas. 

The jaw and tooth fragments the team discovered

The jaw and tooth fragments the team discovered in northeast Spain

The details of the unique bear were described in a paper published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Juan Abella and colleagues from the National Museum of Natural Sciences and the Catalan Institute of Paleontology, Spain.

The fossils have the characteristics of a bear adapted to eating tough plant material like bamboo, the researchers said.

The giant panda, native to certain parts of China, is the only living member of this unique bear family with these dietary habits.

Speaking at the time, Mr Abella said: 'The new genus we describe in this paper is not only the first bear recorded in the Iberian Peninsula, but also the first of the giant panda's lineage.'

The comments below have not been moderated.

The discovery of panda tooth fragments in Spain could mean that the Spanish descended from pandas.

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You may be queen to the spanish people (if they so desire), but in the animal world, you are nothing but an old fur-less female annoyance who rudely squeezes our softy, cruelty-free panda cub. Look at the panda, then look at you: what a heaven and hell contrast.

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'The proud parents???' It's an animal for God'ssake............

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Look out baby Panda! The Spanish throw Donkeys off of clock towers and stab cows while wearing fancy dress!

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She is one lucky woman! I'd give a huge sum of money to be able to do that!!!

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It does not trust anything from Spain because its heard how cruel they are to animals there! zzz!

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Well if there was giant pandas in Spain it doesn't surprise me they died out - they don't like sex...

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They're are apparently drawings of 'lions' on a cave wall in France...

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The panda "received a regal hug"??? Holy Christ. She wants to be queen to pandas as well? She's worth less than a paw nail of the panda.

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Every day the news is about how ugly, evil and brutal human beings are, and how beautiful, cute and kind animals are. Does this sum up daily news reports?

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