Artificial insemination: 25 giant pandas born
Updated: 2005-11-17 14:51
CHENGDU -- Artificial insemination gave birth to
25 baby pandas this year, of which 21 have survived, a record number since China
first took the challenge in the 1960s.
"It's undoubtedly a boon to the
critically-endangered species," said Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu-based
Giant Panda Breeding Technology Committee.
impregnated 38 giant pandas nationwide in spring and 25 baby pandas were born in
the fall, Zhang said Thursday.
twin pandas play at the Wolong Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center in
southwest China's Sichuan Province November 5, 2005.
He said 16 of the surviving baby pandas
were born at the Wolong Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center in the
southwestern Sichuan Province, including two sets of twins.
early deaths of four baby pandas, year 2005 has witnessed the largest number of
surviving newborn pandas in China's history of artificial fertilization on the
rare species," he said. "We owe this achievement to Chinese scientists. They
have acquired mature technologies and valuable experience after years of hard
Last year, China's 30 artificially-fertilized giant pandas
produced 12 offspring but only nine survived.
China began to try
artificial fertilization technologies on giant pandas in the 1960s but back
then, very few successful cases were reported each year.
breakthroughs have been reported after the 1990s. Artificial fertilization gave
birth to nine baby pandas in 2000, 12 in 2001, 10 in 2002 and 15 in 2003.
The Wolong center inaugurated in 1983 has welcomed 90 baby pandas born
through artificial insemination, 77 of whom have survived. The center has
reported 100 percent newborn survival rate for five years in a row.
Giant pandas show little instinctive behavior in captivity, especially
sexual desire, essential for natural mating and conception.
authority statistics show fewer than 10 percent of male giant pandas mate
naturally and fewer than 30 percent of females conceive naturally.
Female pandas normally enter estrus at age four or five and have only
one chance for pregnancy a year. After 160 days of pregnancy, they deliver only
one or two cubs.
Zhang and his team have worked hard in recent years to
tackle the endangered animals' breeding problems and have resorted to artificial
insemination, frozen semen and even showing the pandas videos on natural mating
in the wild to arouse their sexual instincts.
"Female pandas are
extremely picky about their Mr. Right," said Zhang. "So we raise panda cubs in
pairs hoping puppy love will create soul mate couples."
On the other
hand, zoologists have also been helping clumsy mother pandas with artificial
feeding to reduce mortality rate among newborn pandas, he said.
are among the world's most endangered wild animals and are found only in China.
A forestry report released in 2004 says there are 1,590 giant pandas living in
the wild and another 161 kept in captivity at worldwide zoos.
pandas mainly live in mountainous areas in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.