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China to artificially breed rare golden monkeys

(Xinhua)

13:26, August 31, 2012

WUHAN, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- China is expected to set up the country's first artificial breeding base for the endangered golden monkeys within the year.

The base will be set up in the Shennongjia Nature Reserve in central China's Hubei Province, which is home to about 1,200 golden monkeys, according to the reserve's management bureau's research institute.

The base will help increase the population of the endangered golden monkeys in Shennongjia by conquering key technical problems, said Yang Jingyuan, director with the institute.

Regarded as China's "state treasure," just like giant pandas, golden monkeys are classified as under top level protection.

In natural conditions, the birth rate of Shennongjia golden monkeys is about 4 percent, with the survival rate of monkey cubs at only 6 percent.

"It is still an unsolved scientific question why the golden monkeys in Shennongjia become pregnant between August and October. And the female monkeys can only deliver one cub every two years," Yang said.

He said that, researchers will focus on increasing the monkey's pregnant probability by human assistance techniques, artificial fertilization and nutritional regulation.

The Shennongjia golden monkeys, who live in thick forests at altitudes of between 1,680 to 3,000 meters, are on the verge of extinction.

They were first spotted in Shennongjia in the 1960s. The first census of the golden monkeys in the 1980s revealed that only 501 of the primates lived in the area.

The golden monkeys in Shennongjia belong to the species of Rhinopithecus roxellanae, or Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, which is one of the five golden monkey species in the world.

Located in the northwestern mountains in Hubei, the Shennongjia reserve boasts rich natural forest resources and animal species.

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