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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Freed Chinese panda 'doing well'
Xiang Xiang at the Wolong research centre in April 2006
Xiang Xiang is reportedly doing well in Sichuan's bamboo forests
The first Chinese panda released into the wild after being bred in captivity is adjusting well to his new life, officials say.

Xiang Xiang, a male panda, was released in April from the Wolong Giant Panda Research Centre in south-western Sichuan province.

Before his release, he spent three years in a special training compound to prepare him for a natural habitat.

There he learned how to forage for food and mark his territory.

Director of the panda centre Zhang Hemin told Chinese state television that Xiang Xiang, whose name means auspicious, was gradually adapting to his new life in the bamboo forests.

"We have also detected other wild pandas in the area, which means Xiang Xiang is being integrated into a wild population," Mr Zhang said.

Experts will continue to observe the panda until 2008, when the GPS tracking device he wears around his neck is due to run out.

"By then, our Xiang Xiang will have become a real wild panda," Mr Zhang said.

Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species. Only about 1,600 remain in the wild, with another 180 living in captivity.

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