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First panda baby of the year born in Sichuan
Updated: 2004-07-14 10:02

The first panda of the year has been born in captivity in China, to a five-year-old bear called Xi Xi in south-west Sichuan province, state media reported on Tuesday.

"We are honoured to see this year's first panda baby in the whole world born in Wolong, and now the mother and the baby are both in good condition," said Huang Yan, an official at the Wolong Giant Panda Protection Research Centre.

The cub was born on Tuesday morning, with Xi Xi clutching it tightly as experts monitor its progress round the clock.

Sixteen giant pandas survived birth in captivity in China in 2003, increasing the total number of the endangered species in captivity by 10 percent to 161 animals.

China has made major progress in breeding giant pandas since the 1990s. Nine were born in 2000, 12 in 2001 and 10 in 2002.

At least 1 590 of the endangered species live in the wild, all in China.

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