Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 13:00 UK

Boost for China panda population

A panda cub born at the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base and Research Centre in Yaan, China
On 6 July, a set of twins was born at another panda breeding centre

Four giant panda cubs have been born within 14 hours in China, boosting the population of the endangered species.

The cubs were born at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Centre in south-west Sichuan province, state media reported.

A pair of female twins was born to nine-year-old Qiyuan late on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.

About an hour later, eight-year-old panda Chenggong gave birth to another cub, while Zhuzhu, also eight, gave birth on Sunday.

The giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species, because of the destruction of its forest habitat and lack of contact between isolated populations.

According to experts only about 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, mostly in Sichuan and neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

Another 180 pandas are being raised in captivity in China.

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