China reports year's 30th panda birth in mini-baby boom

Updated: 2006-12-24 17:43

BEIJING - A panda has given birth to twins at a zoo in Japan, raising the number of artificially bred pandas born this year to a record 30 in a mini-baby boom, a Chinese news agency reported.

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The panda Meimei gave birth Saturday at Adventure World in Wakayama, Japan, the Xinhua News Agency said.

The number of surviving panda cubs born this year is the highest to date, Xinhua said, citing Zhang Zhihe, an expert at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China's southwest.

"The record number of cubs in this year shows the captive breeding of giant pandas has entered a golden age," Zhang said.

Seventeen of the surviving cubs were born at the Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center and nine at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, both in the southwestern province of Sichuan, according to Xinhua.

One panda was born in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing and another at the Atlanta Zoo in the United States, it said.

The panda is one of the world's rarest animals, with about 1,590 living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the western province of Shaanxi. Another 180 have been bred in captivity.

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