China / Society

China's first panda cub born through natural mating this year

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-17 15:18

CHENGDU - A 7-year-old giant panda gave birth to a cub Saturday at China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas (CCRCGP). Keepers do not know which male fathered the cub, or the gender of the new addition.

This is the mother's, Shuqin, first cub. She showed strong maternal and nursing instincts, by immediately cuddling the cub and hiding it from keepers after her delivery.

The keepers could only judge that the cub was healthy as they heard it crying.

Luo Bo, deputy director of the center, said Shuqin mated with two male pandas -- Jinke and Xiangge -- in March. On June 19, there was a noticeable change to her appetite, a sign of pregnancy on pandas.

Keepers have monitored Shuqin since July 13.

This is the first panda cub born as a result of natural mating in the center this year.

Most giant pandas in captivity are not good breeders. China has developed supportive breeding techniques to sustain the critically endangered species. However, only 24 percent of females in captivity give birth, posing a serious threat to the survival of the species.

Panda cubs born through supported breeding are often born in twins or even sometimes triplets.

It is currently panda reproduction season. Experts at the center said they have gone to great lengths to take care of the mothers and their cubs.

There are currently three other female pandas -- Xidou, Cuicui and Meixi -- showing signs of pregnancy in the center.

The center says it lets the pandas attempt natural mating first, and if they are not successful, they try supported breeding. Sometimes when a panda gets pregnant, keepers don't know whether it is from natural or supported mating. A cub's bloodline is later ascertained through a DNA test.

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