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Last Updated: Saturday February 10 2007 12:20 GMT

Pandas sent to kindergarten

Panda cub

One of the rarest animals in the world got a boost on Saturday, as 18 panda cubs left their mothers to learn to cope by themselves in China.

The cute critters are being put into a new nursery, which will help them get on with each other and learn to deal with different weather conditions.

The cubs were also all given new names, which had been chosen by a public vote.

Names like Tao Tao, meaning playful and Huan Huan, meaning happiness, were among the top choices.

The young animals will stay in the nursery until they are a year old.

Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered animals, with 1,600 of the beautiful creatures in the wild.

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