The pair of giant pandas to be gifted to Hong Kong on the 10th anniversary of its return to the motherland is likely to come from the Wolong Nature Reserve, the largest panda research center in the world.
"Unlike in 1999 when Beijing presented An An and Jia Jia, the first pair of pandas, to Hong Kong, now we have better 'seed resources'," Cao Qingyao, spokesperson for the State Forestry Administration (SFA), told a news conference yesterday.
Eleven pandas have given birth to 18 cubs at the Wolong Nature Reserve over the past few years. And from this month, all the 18 cubs will start an independent life.
A public solicitation campaign has been launched to name each of these cubs, known till now by their numbers: No 1 to No 18.
The pandas gifted to Hong Kong are now 18 and 26 years old, and are housed in Ocean Park. The Hong Kong government requested for a second pair of pandas in September. The State Council accepted the request two months later.
The giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species and is found only in China. An estimated 1,000 are to be found in Southwest China's Sichuan Province and Northwest China's Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
A total of 217 pandas are used for captive breeding.
Last year was good for panda conservation because 34 cubs were born through artificial insemination, and 30 of those survived, SFA figures showed.
(China Daily February 8, 2007)