The endangered panda population received more good news this morning when a Taipei zoo announced one of its giant pandas gave birth to a baby girl.
Yuan Yuan is a female panda who was gifted to Taiwan from China. The birth of her baby this morning followed three years of unsuccessful attempts to get her pregnant.
The tiny cub weighed 6.4 ounces and measured just over six inches in length, which is within normal range for a newborn. The next week will prove to be the most crucial for her survival; round-the-clock monitoring is required to make sure she stays warm and stable.
Pandas have a difficult time breeding whether in the wild or in captivity. Even when closely monitored, female pandas are receptive to mating just between one and three days each year. And they usually only give birth to one child in their lifetime.
That leaves a slim window of opportunity to rebuild a population that’s sunk to about 1,600 globally.
But Yuan Yuan’s baby is the latest in a series of captive panda births that are slowly inching the species towards stability. Last year, eight pandas were born within weeks of each other in the Chengdu Panda Conservancy in China.
For Taiwan, the occasion is particularly momentous because their newest addition is the first panda born on the island. Though Yuan Yuan was originally on loan from China, Taiwan has received permission to keep and care for the baby along with her mother.
Some suspect that's a political maneuver on the part of China to try to get back into Taiwan's good graces. The Taiwanese people don't seem to care. Yuan Yuan's pregnancy was carefully followed in the press and the birth of her daughter is being celebrated by well-wishers and fans.
What other measures need to be taken to bolster the panda population? Let us know in the Comments.
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