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Giant Panda Gives Birth to Twins
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The mother panda with one of its cubs yesterday.


Eight-year-old panda Shu Qing gave staff at the Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu a pleasant surprise - she gave birth to twins.


It brought the total number of pandas at the base to 62.


At 12:59 PM yesterday, Shu Qing, who had been pregnant for 122 days, gave birth to a male cub 11 cm long and weighing 146.5 g. At 18:26 PM, she gave birth to a female panda of the same size, but weighing 129 g.


After the first cub, we did not expect a second one, Lan Jingchao, a researcher at the base, said.


Both cubs are healthy, and the mother is doing fine, he told China Daily.


Shu Qing previously gave birth to a male cub in 2004, through artificial insemination.


Panda base staff believe Shu Qing will be a good mother because of her experience.


A 21-year-old panda gave birth at the base last Saturday. She became the oldest panda in the world to give birth.


It is very rare for pandas of more than 20 years of age to give birth. They breed at four and normally stop before 20, Zhang Zhihe, head of the base, said.


Another seven pandas are likely get pregnant this year, he said.


Giant pandas, also known as "living fossils", are among the world's most endangered species.


At the end of last year, only 1,590 pandas existed in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, and 217 in captivity.


(China Daily July 6, 2007)

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