|Giant panda Hua Mei returns home|
American-born panda Hua Mei is pregnant, just months after she settled into her new home in southwestern China, media reported Wednesday.
Hua-Mei is the first foreign-born panda to return to China.
The 4-year-old panda, whose name means "China-America," was the first foreign-born panda to return to its ancestral homeland. She arrived in February from the San Diego Zoo, where she was born to two pandas on loan from China. Chinese veterinarians, concerned that she had little knowledge of sex after living only in captivity, showed her videos of mating pandas to prepare her for a series of "blind dates."
That education appears to have paid off. Hua Mei became pregnant by natural means and is due in September, the Beijing Morning Post reported, citing researchers at the Wolong Giant Panda Protection Center in southwestern China.
China has poured considerable resources into protecting the giant panda, its unofficial mascot. While China's panda population has risen, the animal remains endangered by heavy logging of its habitats. Also, groups of pandas live far from each other, making breeding difficult.
The government said last week that the number of pandas in the wild in China has jumped by more than 40 percent to 1,590. The World Wildlife Fund cautioned that the spike may be attributable to more reliable surveying methods and not necessarily to a real increase in pandas.
Source: China Daily/agencies