A seven-year-old giant panda gave birth to twin cubs on Monday
afternoon in a panda research center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The cubs, one male and one female, were born between 5:50 p.m.
and 6:20 p.m. Weighing 200 grams and 176 grams respectively, they
are considered overweight compared with other newborns, according
to Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and
Seven-year-old "Chengji" was a first-time mother and she was
exhausted after 15 hours of labor that began early Monday morning,
the center said.
Panda keepers removed one cub and placed it in an incubator
because a mother is usually only able to nurse one cub at a time.
The twins will be swapped every four hours to ensure that both are
well fed and taken care of.
It was the second twin birth in a month after another pair of
twin cubs was born at the center on July 5.
On June 30, a 21-year-old giant panda gave birth to a female
cub, a rare feat given pandas normally breed between the ages of
four and twenty.
China made a major breakthrough in artificial panda breeding in
the 1990s, with the number of newborn captive cubs rising from nine
in 2000 to more than 20 last year.
The panda is one of the world's rarest animals, with about 1,590
living in the wild in China, mostly in southwest China. Another 200
have been bred in captivity.
(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2007)