Friday 28 November 2014

Newborn giant panda triplets born in China through artificial insemination

Published 12/08/2014 | 10:12

Newborn giant panda triplets, which were born to giant panda Juxiao (not pictured), are seen inside an incubator at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province August 4, 2014. According to local media, this is the fourth set of giant panda triplets born with the help of artificial insemination procedures in China, and the birth is seen as a miracle due to the low reproduction rate of giant pandas. Picture taken August 4, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
Newborn giant panda triplets, which were born to giant panda Juxiao (not pictured), are seen inside an incubator at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Photo: Reuters/China Daily
This is the fourth set of giant panda triplets born with the help of artificial insemination procedures in China. Photo: Reuters/China Daily
A newborn giant panda cub, one of the triplets which were born to giant panda Juxiao (not pictured), is seen inside an incubator at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alex Lee
A newborn giant panda cub, one of the triplets which were born to giant panda Juxiao (not pictured), is seen inside an incubator at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alex Lee

China has announced the birth of extremely rare panda triplets in a further success for the country's artificial breeding program.

The three cubs were born on July 29 in the southern city of Guangzhou, but breeders delayed an announcement until they were sure all three would survive.

The mother, Ju Xiao, and the three as-yet-unnamed cubs are healthy. Photos showed the three sleeping and standing in their incubator, their bodies pink and mostly hairless. Ju Xiao was impregnated in March with sperm from a panda living at a Guangzhou zoo.

Ju Xiao was under round-the-clock care for the final weeks of her pregnancy, according to the report. The triplets were born within four hours of each other and currently weigh between 230 grams (8 ounces) and 333 grams (12 ounces).

The report said the triplets were only the fourth known to have been born in the world through artificial breeding programs, but it wasn't clear how many had survived from such births.

China has devoted major resources to increasing the numbers of the country's unofficial national mascot and regularly announces the birth of pandas born at zoos and at the Wolong breeding center in the southwestern province of Sichuan, where most wild pandas are found.

There are about 1,600 giant pandas in the wild, where they are critically endangered due to loss of habitat and low birth rates. More than 300 live in captivity, mostly in China's breeding programs.

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