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25 giant pandas born since earthquake in SW China
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21:48, August 26, 2009

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Twenty-five giant pandas have been born at a protection center for the endangered animal in southwest China's Sichuan since a devastating earthquake hit the province on May 12 last year, local authorities said Wednesday.

Thirteen panda cubs were born last year and 12 this year at the Ya'an base of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center. All the panda cubs are healthy, said Zhou Xiaoping, the center's deputy chief engineer.

"Several more giant pandas will be born during the next two months," said Zhou.

The Ya'an base is being renovated to provide better water and power supply systems for the new inhabitants.

"We are improving the infrastructure to provide a better livingenvironment for more pandas," said Tang Chunxiang, head of the veterinary hospital under the protection center.

Last year, more than 40 pandas were relocated from the Wolong base, about 130 kilometers northwest of provincial capital Chengdu, to Ya'an after the earthquake, which left more than 87,000 people dead or missing.

The Ya'an base contains the biggest number of giant pandas -- 81 -- in captivity in China.

The base has invested 30 million yuan (4.39 million U.S. dollars) to build research centers, hospitals, kindergartens, breeding and exhibition centers, covering 6,000 mu, or 4.02 square kilometers.

The Wolong panda base is undergoing a 2 billion yuan reconstruction program, of which 1.4 billion yuan is coming from Hong Kong and the rest from central government and provincial coffers.

The reconstruction is expected to be completed in 2011, said Li Desheng, deputy chief of the Wolong base.


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