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Sunday, 12 August, 2001, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
China hopes for panda baby boom
Panda cubs
As many as 20 cubs are expected
Thirteen pandas in China, pregnant thanks to artificial insemination, are due to give birth in the next few months.

In the past half of artificially inseminated pandas have given birth to twins so as many as 20 cubs are expected, the official Xinhua news agency reports.


According to our experience, 50% of them could be twins, and so there may be 13 to 20 new members of the panda family soon

Zhang Anju
Programme director
The giant panda is one of the most endangered species in the world, with only about 1,000 left world-wide, most of whom live in China's Sichuan province.

China has artificially bred 66 pandas in the past four years, in an attempt to save the notoriously under-sexed animal from extinction.

Nine of the pregnant pandas kept in captivity in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, have been moved into a newly completed air conditioned delivery room.

Low sex drive

The four other pandas expected to give birth this autumn are at a breeding base in Sichuan's Wolong Nature Reserve.

Panda cub
More than 60 cubs have been born in four years
"According to our experience, 50% of them could be twins, and so there may be 13 to 20 new members of the panda family soon," said Zhang Anju, director of the Giant Panda Breeding Technology Committee of China.

Of the 66 pandas already bred artificially in China, 52 have survived, Xinhua reported.

In the past it has been claimed that the main problem with getting pandas to breed is that they have a fundamental lack of interest in sex.

Many solutions have been proposed in the past ranging from traditional Chinese aphrodisiacs to Viagra.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kim Barnes
"Some could be carrying twins"
See also:

16 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
Captive pandas too shy for sex
06 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Human threat to panda reserve
18 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Air-con pandas beat the heat
31 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
China backs panda charity
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