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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Air-con pandas beat the heat
panda baby
Panda baby: Survival rates are low
Giant pandas at a breeding centre in south-western China will be able to stay cool this summer with the help of a new air conditioning system.

According to the Chinese news agency, the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre in Sichuan has installed 35 conditioning units.

These will replace the ice and electric fans which previously helped the pandas cope with the region's scorching summers.

The animals, which originally evolved to live in a temperate climate at high altitude, have grown accustomed to the hotter climate of the plains, but they still experience poor appetite and bad health in hot weather.

Delivery rooms

In the wild, giant pandas usually roam over a large area, covering distances of more than a kilometre every day.

Wild panda
Most giant pandas live in the mountains of Sichuan province

Today, about 140 pandas live in captivity - the majority in China's panda research or reserve centres.

The Chengdu centre, which uses artificial insemination to help the pandas reproduce, has also raised money to help pay for delivery rooms for pregnant pandas.

Low sex drive

Giant pandas that are born in captivity often adapt well to life in a cage, but are notorious for their reluctance to mate.

Pandas can only procreate during a short mating season.

Survival rates of cubs are also low, even in the wild, with about 60% dying soon after birth.

There are only about 1,000 giant pandas left in the world.

More than 80% of them live in the mountains in the western part of Sichuan Province.

See also:

06 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Human threat to panda reserve
16 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
Captive pandas too shy for sex
11 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Panda baby boom in China
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