Captive panda gives birth to a cub from her mating with a wild male

Authors: China Daily

2017-08-04

Cao Cao gave her seventh birth on July 31.
The first panda cub produced by mating a female raised in captivity with a wild male was born in Sichuan province in the early hours of July 31.
The cub weighed 216 grams, much heavier than the average 150 grams for a newborn, according to Zhang Hemin, deputy executive director of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong National Nature Reserve.
Cao Cao, the mother, is 16 years old (equivalent to 48 in human years) and considered old for giving birth, he said.
She had been raised in captivity and was released into the wild at the center's Hetaoping base on March 1 in the time for the panda mating season, which runs from March to May.
In March, several male pandas were seen fighting for the right to mate with her, and researchers at the center began checking data every five days sent by the GPS tag on her neck-which was fitted with a recording device.
When they checked the recording on March 27, they heard her making noises similar to those made by females while mating. The mating, which might have taken place on March 23, lasted 1 minute and 30 seconds, Zhang said.
Cao Cao was born in the wild but was rescued and taken to the center at age 2 after she was found in poor health inside the reserve. Before giving birth on July 31 she had already given birth to six cubs. The center formulated a plan last year under which captive pandas could mate with wild ones, and Cao Cao was the first captive panda chosen. The objective is to improve the gene pool of captive pandas.
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