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Panda Born In US Give Birth To Another Cub In China

September 20, 2010

A US-born panda gave birth to her eighth cub in southwest China on Friday, a rare achievement for the endangered species that has been extremely hard to breed in captivity, Chinese media reported this weekend.

The panda, named Hua Mei, was born at the San Diego Zoo in August 1999. She gained famed for being the first giant panda born in captivity to survive until adulthood in the United States. She was relocated to the Wolong preserve in Sichuan Province, China in 2004 once she reached adulthood.

Chinese State News said Hua Mei gave birth to her eighth cub, a male, at the preserve on Friday. All of her previous cubs — three sets of twins and a single cub — have been born since the panda returned to China from the US, it said.

After the birth of her seventh cub last year, Hua Mei — whose name means “China-America” — was called a “heroic mother,” according to the report. The newest cub was reported to be in good health and active.

The Giant Panda is the world’s most endangered species, with 300 bred in captivity and 1,600 living in the wild. These beasts are known for their infamously low libido, which has frustrated caretakers who have tried to boost their numbers.

Panda females only have three days a year in which they can conceive, which also makes it extremely difficult to breed. Some males never succeed in natural breeding, so artificial insemination has become common practice in breeding captive pandas.

In the wild, pandas are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching and low reproduction rate. Females in the wild usually have a cub only once every two or three years. Experts say that the fertility of captive pandas is even lower.

Friday’s birth was the 16th at Wolong this year, with more expected before year’s end, said Xinhua news agency.

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