China breeding program produces 4 rare pandas
May 25, 1999
SICHUAN PROVINCE, China (CNN) -- They romped around on a playground, wrestled with one another and showcased the most successful artificial breeding program for giant pandas in China.
Four newborn pandas at the Wolong Reserve in Sichuan Province made their first appearance before cameras Monday.
The black and white cuddly furballs were successfully bred at the reserve, which boasts China's pre-eminent panda conservation program.
China says that the healthy growth of the young pandas highlights its success in artificially breeding giant pandas, regarded as a national treasure.
Since it began in 1991, the Wolong Reserve's artificial breeding program has produced 38 pandas, with a survival rate of 90 percent.
The reserve in southwest China, the largest natural panda preserve in the country, covers an area of 200,000 hectares (494,220 acres). It was established in 1962 to save and protect the rare species found only in China. Now on the verge of extinction, only about 1,000 remain in the wild.
Shrinking habitat and poaching have devastated the animals, which are at a disadvantage because of finicky eating habits and a short mating season.
Male pandas are notorious for their lack of sexual drive; female pandas only produce eggs about once a year and are fertile for just over a day. A high infant mortality rate has hindered their reproduction.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Baby pandas get first taste of fresh air
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