Four giant panda cubs were born within 14 hours in separate births at a panda breeding base in southwest China's Sichuan Province from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. The event was considered a rarity in panda breeding history.
Nine-year-old Qiyuan ("Magic Luck" in Chinese) gave birth to a pair of twin female cubs weighing 135 grams and 132 grams, respectively, at 5:24 p.m. and 6:16 p.m. on Saturday at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center, said Yang Feifei, a center expert.
Eight-year-old Chenggong ("success" in Chinese) gave birth to a 117-gram cub at 7:51 p.m. on Saturday. Zhuzhu ("Pearl in Chinese"), also eight-year-old, gave birth to a 186-gram cub at 6:55 a.m. on Sunday, Yang said.
Currently, the center has 71 pandas in captivity, the largest of its kind in the world.
Twelve panda twins were born in captivity in the country last year, the most since an artificial breeding program started more than 40 years ago.
The giant panda, known for being sexually inactive, is among the world's most endangered animals due to its shrinking habitat.
There are about 1,590 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu.
(Xinhua News Agency July 28, 2008)