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World's 1st giant panda born from frozen sperm in SW China

2009-07-27 08:42 BJT

  CHENGDU, July 24 (Xinhua) -- The world's first giant panda conceived through artificial fertilization with frozen sperm has been born in southwest China's Sichuan Province, researchers said Friday.

Eleven-year-old You You gave birth at 7:41 a.m.

Thursday at the Ya'an base to a baby giant panda that appeared healthy, said Huang Yan, a researcher with the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center of the Wolong nature reserve.

It was the first artificial fertilization using frozen panda sperm, which was a breakthrough for breeding the endangered species, Huang said.

"It can avoid inbreeding of giant pandas and increase the diversity of the species," he said.

"With the technology, we can keep the sperm frozen for decades," Huang said. "The freezing and thawing causes no harm or change to the genetic structure of the sperm, so the technology has no influence on the baby."

The center moved its pandas from Wolong to the Bifengxia breeding base in Ya'an City after the earthquake in May 12 last year. A total of 88 pandas are living in Ya'an while another 56 are outside Sichuan Province. A new breeding center is being built to replace the former quake-damaged habitat.

About 1,590 pandas live in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Another 180 are being bred in captivity.

Editor: Zheng Limin | Source: Xinhua