China wel­comes world's first panda born to wild and cap­tive par­ents

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

China has wel­comed the world's first gi­ant panda cub born to a mixed pair of cap­tive and wild par­ents, the of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency said. Palm-sized and pink, cov­ered in a downy layer of white fuzz from its tiny claws to its long tail, the cub was born early Mon­day morn­ing in south­west­ern Sichuan province to 15-year-old Cao Cao, who had mated with a wild male panda in March. The cub's birth is the re­sult of re­searchers' ef­forts to boost the health and ge­netic di­ver­sity of cap­tive pan­das by get­ting them to mate with their for­est-dwelling coun­ter­parts, Xin­hua cited Zhang Zhizhong of the China Con­ser­va­tion and Re­search Cen­ter for the Gi­ant Panda (CCRCGP) as say­ing.

With only 471 cap­tive pan­das world­wide as of the end of last year, the species is at risk of in­breed­ing, Xin­hua said. Cao Cao, who has lived in cap­tiv­ity since she was two, was re­leased back into the wild for a two-month stint in March wear­ing po­si­tion­ing and record­ing de­vices around her neck. The record­ing de­vice showed that af­ter go­ing into heat on March 11, she mated with a wild male panda for a minute and 30 sec­onds on March 23. Her baby weighed in at a hefty 216 grams-ex­ceed­ing the typ­i­cal new­born panda weight of around 150 grams thanks to Cao Cao's good ap­petite dur­ing preg­nancy.

Gi­ant pan­das are no­to­ri­ously clumsy at mat­ing, with males said to be bad at de­ter­min­ing when a fe­male is in the right frame of mind and of­ten be­fud­dled at know­ing what to do next. In the event the an­i­mals do feel com­pat­i­ble, sex is fre­quently over too quickly to im­preg­nate the fe­male, who is only re­cep­tive to the propo­si­tion for two or three days a year between Fe­bru­ary and May. Fewer than 2,000 gi­ant pan­das are es­ti­mated to re­main in the wild, in three prov­inces in south-cen­tral China.

— AP

TOKYO: In this photo re­leased by Tokyo Zoo­log­i­cal Park So­ci­ety, a gi­ant panda cub lies down on the floor with its mother ShinShin at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.

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