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20 Year Old Panda Gives Birth to New Cub at San Diego Zoo!


(CBS/AP) San Diego Zoo has welcomed a record-breaking sixth panda cub.

Officials say the birth of 20-year-old Bai Yun's latest offspring gives the zoo the most births at a breeding facility outside of China.

Bai Yun has birthed all the cubs born in captivity at the San Diego Zoo, CBS News affiliate KFMB in San Diego reported. The new mother almost broke another record. She was a few days shy of being the oldest panda known to give birth.

Zookeepers and researchers watched the birth Sunday afternoon via a closed circuit camera mounted inside the birthing den. Zoo officials told KFMB that they didn't know the panda was expecting until late in her pregnancy because of her age. They expect this will be her last cub, but acknowledge that it is up to her.

In a blog post, zoo officials say Bai Yun immediately scooped the cub into her arms and comforted the newborn.

Because of Bai Yun's advanced age the pregnancy was considered high risk, but zookeepers say mother and baby are doing fine.

Zoo officials won't know the sex of the cub until they examine it in several months. It won't develop its black and white markings for a few months either.

KFMB reported that the cub will be named on its 100th day, according to tradition. Zoo visitors will be allowed to vote for the name.

It will be a while before Bai Yun and the new cub are on display but the public can glimpse them on the Panda Cam at the zoo's website. The new mother and cub are bonding, and visitors can expect to see them in the exhibit around December 2012, according to KFMB.


Baby Pandas On A Slide (VIDEO)!

China's Chengdu Panda Base has released what may be the most adorable video you will see all day: four baby pandas racing down a slide.

Chengdu is marking its 25th anniversary with Panda Awareness Week (PAW), which includes several events around the world to spotlight efforts to increase the numbers of healthy panda bears in the wild.

The  video is incredibly entertaining, as the baby pandas race back up the slide for repeated turns. Near the end of the video, one of them literally rolls head over paws at the bottom of the slide:


"Our ultimate goal is to help pandas return to their natural habitat and to grow the number of giant pandas living in the wild," said Dr. Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu Panda Base, in a press release. "We hope that Panda Awareness Week helps us effectively widen the support for panda conservation and find new advocates for this very special cause."

The organization opened in 1987 when 6 giant pandas were rescued from the wild. Chengdu is now the largest captive breeding panda reserve in the world and hopes to house more than 150 pandas over the next 10 years.

Find information to volunteer at Chengdu in China. And watch more panda videos at the Chengdu PAW YouTube page, including this clip of pandas on an obstacle course.


Panda Born in Tokyo Zoo - First Time in 24 Years!

In something of a remarkable coincidence as it is Panda Awareness Week, a baby giant panda was born today at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo for the first time in 24 years. In the words of one of the zoo’s veterinarians, “This is a really good thing.” The baby panda, whose sex is not yet known, is the first born in Tokyo through natural mating, rather than artificial insemination. Soon him/her will be at the center of some real "pandamonium".

The baby panda was born to Shin Shin and her partner Ri Ri, who came to Tokyo from China in February of 2011. They are on lease from China, at an annual cost of about a million dollars and were presented to the public in March of 2011, shortly after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Cameras recorded the two pandas mating in late March and keepers then concluded that Shin Shin was pregnant from changes in her hormone level, a lessened appetite for about two weeks and more time spent sleeping. Last week, keepers said that Shin Shin might be pregnant, says Reuters; they had no way to determine this exactly until, around noon on Thursday, they saw her holding a small object to her chest.

The difficulties of successfully breeding rare animal species in captivity are highlighted in the New York Times. Zoos are currently seeking to bread some 160 endangered species but, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, 83 percent of those species in North America are not making their breeding targets. The disappointing success rate has led to questions about whether zoos should be in the breeding business at all: “I’d be happier about captive breeding if I thought it helped wild cheetahs,” said Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, a nonprofit group that works on global conservation efforts for big cats in the wild, including cheetahs. “Free of threats, they breed like rabbits in the wild. They don’t need super costly assisted reproduction — they need a place to roam.” Should funds rather be directed to preserving wildlife species and habitats, where animals have no difficulties mating? Yes.

baby panda, whose sex is not yet known, is the first born in Tokyo through a natural mating,


Giant Pandas Grab London's Imagination!

Sichuan province in Southwest China is home to the giant panda and boasts the largest population of the animals in the world.

But this week Sichuan has a rival to its title of panda capital of the world, and the competition comes from an unlikely challenger.

London, better known as the home of Big Ben, is hosting 108 pandas who will be sightseeing in the English capital as part of International Panda Awareness Week, fittingly known as PAW.

The event was launched on Wednesday with 108 costumed pandas performing a tai chi-inspired dance in central London's Trafalgar Square.


Panda Awareness Week was launched in London on Wednesday with 108 "bears" adding to the British capital's attractions with a dance routine in Trafalgar Square.  [Photo/Agencies]

PAW was pioneered by the Chengdu Panda Base, a world-leading breeding and research center for giant pandas in Sichuan, and aims to enhance awareness and support for the conservation of one of the world's most threatened species.

There will be a number of events in London this week, including a panda posse hosting a panda party in Covent Garden, pandas taking over the London Underground and pandas visiting the city's most famous landmarks.

The week is Chengdu's latest campaign to raise awareness of the endangered animal. London was chosen as the venue for the campaign because the Olympic Games open in the city in just over 20 days.

Last month black-and-white stripes were painted on 30 taxis to imitate the look of a panda, and another 20 taxis were decorated with a painting of a cartoon panda in its natural habitat surrounded by bamboo. Both designs featured the slogan "Chengdu, hometown of pandas, spice it up." PAW is supported by British TV wildlife presenter Nigel Marven, who is also the first Chengdu panda ambassador from the West.

Marven and panda experts from Chengdu, accompanied by the costumed pandas, will visit London primary schools to educate children about the importance of saving the giant panda and tell them how they can play a role in Chengdu's conservation efforts.

"It was a truly magical experience that resulted in me having the privilege of becoming the first Western Chengdu panda ambassador. Pandas have been a lifelong passion of mine, which is why I jumped at the chance to be involved with the launch of PAW in London," said Marven.

"I am confident all the great work taking place during PAW will highlight the fantastic efforts of Chengdu city, especially the CPB, and help raise awareness for one of the world's most threatened species, the giant panda."

The panda base was founded in 1987 when six giant pandas were rescued from the wild. Chengdu now has the largest captive breeding panda population in the world and aims to increase the number from 108 to 150 in the next decade.

Sichuan is home to more than 80 percent of the world's panda population.

"Our ultimate goal is to help pandas return to their natural habitat and to increase the number of giant pandas living in the wild. We hope that PAW will help us to boost support for panda conservation and find new advocates for this special cause," said Zhang Zhihe, director of the panda base.

Li Yu in Chengdu contributed to this story. Source:

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