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China: 15-year-old panda raised in captivity gives birth after mating in the wild!

China: 15-year-old panda raised in captivity gives birth after mating in the wild!

New Delhi: In a first for China’s panda breeding programmes that aim to help diversify the panda population’s gene pool, a female panda who was raised in captivity and mated in the wild has given birth.

At about 2:00 am on Monday, 15-year-old Cao Cao delivered a male cub at Hetaoping Wild Training Base, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The birth marked the first time a panda was released into the wild and successfully mated, China National Radio (CRI) reported.

The cub weighs 216 grammes, well above the 150 gram average, experts said.

Cao Cao has already mothered 6 cubs – including two pairs of twins – and was the first one to be chosen for the pilot breeding program, CRI reported.

As the number of captive pandas increases, the biggest problem the population faces is genetic diversity, Zhang Hemin, deputy head of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, told media.

Researchers hope to broaden the gene pool by allowing captive pandas to mate with wild pandas, state-run Xinhua reported.

As of November last year there were 471 captive pandas worldwide, the report said.

PTI