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|Sunday, August 19, 2001, updated at 13:19(GMT+8)|
China Expects to Breed Pandas in Test-tubesChina 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 leading zoologist told Xinhua that his research center has started using artificial techniques to breed giant panda cubs since 1999.
The experiment adopts the techniques of external insemination and embryo transplantation to cultivate test-tube baby pandas, according to Li.
"So far, our efforts seem to be successful," said the director. He and his colleagues have experimented using these techniques on black pandas, a species close to the giant panda. The black pandas ' fertilized eggs inseminated externally have hatched successfully.
"The first test-tube giant panda cub will be born in one or two years," he said.
A giant panda only conceives one or two babies each year. Many newborn cubs are often abandoned by the mother if she cannot feed two cubs at the same time.
The man in charge of the world's biggest giant panda breeding base is optimistic about the experiment result. He considers artificial breeding to be easier than cloning the endangered species.
The State Council has allocated 20 million yuan (about 2.4 million U.S. dollars) to the project.
The giant panda has been listed as one of the most endangered wild animals in the world. Experts estimate that there are only about 1,000 giant pandas living in the wild and in captivity, mainly in China.
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