China Has Record Year for Pandas

Animal Planet :: News :: Record Year for Pandas

Picture(s): AP Photo/Ng Han Guan |

Playful Pandas
A pair of panda cubs play at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Base in the Sichuan province of western China. Twenty-five pandas were born through artificial insemination this year, of which 21 survived. This is more than double the number of pandas born through artificial insemination in 2004.


China Has Record Year for Pandas

Nov. 18, 2005 — China has succeeded in producing 25 panda cubs through artificial insemination this year, a record since the method was introduced four decades ago, state media said Thursday.

Researchers artificially impregnated 38 giant pandas this spring, resulting in 25 panda births this fall of which 21 survived, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“We owe this achievement to Chinese scientists,” said Zhang Zhihe, director of the Giant Panda Breeding Technology Committee in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

“They have acquired mature technologies and valuable experience after years of hard work,” he said.

Last year, 30 artificial inseminations resulted in just 12 births and only nine survived, according to the agency.

The Chinese are fighting an uphill battle to preserve the giant panda, arguably the world’s most famous endangered species, but are getting little help from the furry animal itself.

Giant pandas show little instinctive behavior in captivity, especially sexual desire, which, Xinhua explained, is “essential for natural mating and conception.”

“Female pandas are extremely picky about their ‘Mr. Right,'” said Zhang.

The panda’s reproductive problems extend beyond dating and mating, as clumsy mother pandas often do not know how to feed their cubs. In these cases scientists have to step in to help with artificial feeding, Xinhua said.

As of the end of 2004 China had raised 163 giant pandas in captivity, while almost 1,600 of the rare animals are believed to be living in the wild in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

Name: Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
Primary Classification: Ursidae (Bears)
Location: The Sichuan, Gansu and Shanxi provinces in central China.
Habitat: Temperate bamboo forests.
Diet: Bamboo, almost exclusively.
Size: Up to 6 ft in length and 250 lbs in weight.
Description: Black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs and shoulders; white fur everywhere else; thick, woolly coat; broad, round face and flat nose; large molars; round, protruding ears; round body with short, sturdy limbs.
Cool Facts: Mothers will eat their cubs’ stools to eliminate any evidence of their presence, thereby avoiding potential predators. They need to eat more than 22 lbs of bamboo per day to satisfy their daily requirement of nutrients.
Conservation Status: Endangered
Major Threat: Habitat loss and poaching.
What Can I Do?: Visit Pandas International, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and The Hong Kong Society for Panda Conservation for information on how you can help.


Copyright © 2005 Discovery Communications Inc.
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