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China zoo animals 'go digital'
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Zoo keepers in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality began implanting digital identification chips in animals on Tuesday to strengthen their management, the first such move in the country.


Three stitching-needle-sized chips, containing information about the animal's name, age, gender, species, birth date and birthplace, blood type, and DNA, among others, were injected into the necks of an eight-year-old Siberian tiger, a seven-year-old African lioness and a five-year-old African lion raised at the Chongqing Zoo on Tuesday.


The chips, comprising a 64-bit code of binary numbers system, are radio frequency implants that are widely used worldwide to identify and manage animals, said Yin Yuzhong, the zoo's deputy head.


"With such a chip, each animal owns a code exclusive to itself, in addition to its country and regional code. The digital ID chips will be helpful for the identification and management of animals, breeding control and epidemic prevention."


Chips will be implanted into more than 120 animals that belong to 20 species raised in the Chongqing Zoo this year.


Chongqing Zoo is one of the largest in China with more than 4,000 animals of more than 230 species.


The Beijing Zoo will join Chongqing next month as the first two zoos in the country to launch such a program and help animals "go digital".


Nationwide, all zoos are now required by the State Forestry Administration to implant digital ID chips in 17 species of animals this year. These included tigers, lions, elephants, giant panda, bears, golden monkeys, cranes and swans.


Beijing piloted the implanting program by putting similar digital chips in dogs last year to strengthen the management of its canine population, estimated at more than 1 million, and to curb the spread of rabies.


Xicheng District in downtown Beijing, where more than 10,000 dogs were registered, piloted the program before it was introduced to the rest of the city, according to the dog registration department of the local police authorities.


(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2008)

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