Methods to Improve Propagation of Pandas

Two-week-old Giant Panda
Quality and quantity of pandas to be improved
On Saturday, 40 experts, nature reserve administrators and zoologists from home and abroad gathered in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, to discuss methods for improving the quality and quantity of giant pandas that live in protection centers or zoos in China and foreign countries.

Due to their limited number and divided management over their care, giant pandas in captivity suffer from inbreeding, and this is affecting the quality of their cubs in varying degrees, experts said.

Seminar participants worked towards mapping out a five-year management and implementation plan that would involve matching up giant pandas with a mate.

Joint efforts to be made on panda breeding
There are about 100 giant pandas bred in research centers around the world. More than 30 of them live in the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base. Less than 1,000 giant pandas exist in the world, and 80 percent of that total are found in Sichuan.

A Giant Panda with Most Babies
Giant panda breeding and research centers around the world will work hand in hand, conducting hereditary analysis and genealogical system research, exchanging frozen sperm and even giant pandas, experts said.

With the involvement of Chinese and US experts, the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base kicked off the building of China's first genome resource bank of endangered animal species last year.

New technology to treat sterility of pandas
A group of Chinese and US scientists improved the technology of frozen semen and successfully increased the pregnancy rate of giant pandas reared by man.

Statistics show that only one-third of the artificial feeding female giant pandas in the world have given birth, and only a dozen male pandas have the ability of natural mating.

Experts say the newly improved technology will greatly increase the chance of the female giant pandas of becoming pregnant after receiving artificial fertilization.

Mating and Reproduction

Birth rate of wild pandas is comparable to that of bears, and while infant mortality is high, it is far lower than in captivity. Both sexes usually reach sexual maturity at 5.5 to 6.5 years, and after a very variable gestation period of 97 to 163 days pandas generally give birth to single young or sometimes twins; the reproductive rate is about one young every two years.

Young pandas are fully weaned at 8 to 9 months, and leave their mothers at about 18 months. Female pandas in the wild usually give birth to a single cub once every two to three years when they are between the ages of four and twenty. A cub stays with its mother for up to two years, reaching sexual maturity around the age of four.

Unlike other bears, pandas do not hibernate. At birth, panda cubs weigh only about as much as a quarter-pound stick of butter (90-130 grams) and have little fur. Adults can weigh more than 220 pounds. A panda's average life span is 10-15 years in the wild and up to 30 in captivity. (More)

China Expects to Breed Pandas in Test-tubes

China will soon have a test-tube giant panda, declared Li Guanghan, director of the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, in this capital of southwest China 's Sichuan Province.

The experiment adopts the techniques of external insemination and embryo transplantation to cultivate test-tube baby pandas, according to Li.

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