China panda gives birth to twins: state media

Aug 19, 2009
A female giant panda holds her cub at the Chiang Mai zoo in Thailand. A giant panda in northern China has given birth to twins, state media said in rare good news for a species facing the threat of extinction.

A giant panda in northern China has given birth to twins, state media said Wednesday in rare good news for a species facing the threat of extinction.

Six-year-old Lousheng delivered a male and female cub in Shaanxi province on Tuesday after being artificially inseminated -- the same process by which she was born, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue and Research Centre is now home to 20 , including the two newborns, the report said.

Sperm from two males was used to inseminate Lousheng, so the identity of the father will only be revealed after the cubs undergo DNA tests, the report quoted Ma Qingyi, head of the panda centre's veterinary hospital, as saying.

The news comes two days after group WWF warned that rapid economic development in was damaging the panda's habitat, heightening the risk of extinction in just two to three generations.

The animals also have notoriously low libidos, frustrating efforts to boost their numbers.

There are about 1,590 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in southwestern Sichuan, Shaanxi and northwestern Gansu provinces. At least 180 have been bred in captivity, according to earlier reports.

(c) 2009 AFP

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