Giant panda Nini gives birth to twins

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A giant panda named Nini gave birth to twins Thursday morning, bringing the total number of new arrivals this year at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center in Sichuan Province to eight.

Nini's pregnancy was confirmed late June and she gave birth to two cubs in the early hours of Thursday.

The male cub, weighing 203 grams, was born at 5:48 a.m.; his sister, weighing 91 grams, arrived about an hour later at 6:33 a.m.

Both of the cubs and their mother are in a healthy condition.

This was Nini's second delivery after giving birth to twins in August, 2015.

Born in August 2008, the same month Beijing held the Olympic Games, Nini and her twin brother Yingying got their names from the Olympic slogan "Beijing huan ying ni," which means "Beijing welcomes you."

Nini's family is known as the "Olympic family". Her grandfather Cobi was born on the same day as the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and was named after the mascot, a Catalan sheepdog, by Juan Antonio Samaranch, former president of the International Olympic Committee.

Pandas are an endangered species due to extremely low reproductive rates in the wild. In recent years, giant pandas have often given birth to twins in captivity, due to a change in artificial breeding methods, according to Wu Kongju from the center.

"We used to rely entirely on the giant pandas being in heat to arrange mating, but during the past decade, we began observing their hormonal changes to take advantage of the best mating opportunities," Wu said.

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