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Chinese Scientists Happy with Baby Boom of Giant Pandas

A baby giant panda was born in a southwest China research center Sunday morning, bringing the number of newborn, artificially bred pandas to 11 so far this year.


More than 30 female pandas across the country have mated this year, and seven of them have given birth to 11 cubs, including four sets of twins, said Zhang Zhihe, head of the Chengdu Giant Panda Reproduction and Research Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.


"Chinese experts are expecting more than 20 pandas cubs to be born this year. Now it seems it won't be difficult to achieve the goal," said Zhang.


This weekend a panda named Eryatou, meaning "second girl" in Chinese, at the age of 13, gave birth to a 130-gram female cub after 123 days of pregnancy in the center. The mother and the daughter are healthy, according to staff with the center.


Although this is the fourth birth for Eryatou, none of her previous cubs survived.


The Chengdu center had assigned a worker to feed Eryatou, who has gained 15 kg since last year and now weighs 95 kg.


"She is a good mother this time," said Huang Xiangming, an official with the center. After giving birth, Eryatou held the cub before it touched the ground and licked it with care.


China has seen a baby boom of newborn panda cubs in recent days. A 218-gram panda, the heaviest in the history of China's artificial reproduction program, was born in Wolong giant panda research and protection center, also based in Sichuan, last Monday.


(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2006)


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