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Pandas Off the Gift List
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China will send no more pandas to foreign countries as gifts, a state forestry spokesman announced at a press conference yesterday.

Cao Qingyao, spokesman and director of Information Office of the State Forestry Administration said that the Chinese government has stopped the program of giving pandas to foreign countries as gifts, but joint research programs on pandas will continue.

China has carried out joint research programs with nine zoos from five countries, and 30 pandas were sent to these zoos.

In the latest move, Cao said that the China Wildlife Conservation Association, on behalf of the ministry, signed a ten-year agreement with Australia's Adelaide Zoo outlining protection and joint research of the giant pandas. A pair of pandas, Wangwang and Funi, has been selected to live there.

Another pair of giant pandas, Bing Xing and Hua Zui Ba, arrived in Madrid on September 8. They will reside in Spain for ten years as a goodwill gesture from Beijing.

The giant panda is one of the world's rarest animals, with about 1,590 currently living in the wild in China, mostly in the southwest parts of the country. Another 210 have been bred in captivity.

China has been raising pandas using artificial insemination and breeding techniques for nearly 50 years. Last year the number of newborns rose to 34 with 30 surviving. Both were record figures.

( by Zhang Yunxing, September 13, 2007)

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Q: What kind of law is there in place to protect pandas?
A: In order to put the protection of giant pandas and other wildlife under the law, the Chinese government put the protection of rare animals and plants into the Constitution.
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