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"Hero Mother" Panda Gives Birth to 12th Baby

A 17-year-old giant panda in a breeding center in southwest China's Sichuan Province gave birth to her 12th baby Tuesday, making her the panda that has given birth to the most offspring in the world.

The female baby panda born at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base weighs 105 grams and is very healthy, experts at the base said.

The mother panda, Qingqing, has been long known as the "hero mother" of the base. She has so far had eight deliveries, giving birth to 12 baby pandas, including eight being twins.

Qingqing's mother, Meimei had given birth to 11 baby pandas between 1980 and 1990.

Yu Jianqiu, deputy head of the base, said Qingqing seems to be proud, for her feeding all her babies by herself.

Another panda at the base, Jiaojiao, delivered a 125-gram baby also on Tuesday.

The giant panda is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Its population is estimated at about 1,000, most of which live in the mountains in Sichuan Province.

China to Send Pandas Back to Wild in 2005

China plans to send pen-reared giant pandas back into the wild in 2005 for the first time in history, according to Zhang Hemin, director of the Chinese Panda Protection Research Center. The 2005 sending-back project will be held within the Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province. The second phase of China Pandas Park Project, aiming at helping pandas regain survival skills in the reservation, is currently being designed according to resources from the center. About forty or fifty pen-reared pandas will be living in a natural half-breeding environment after the establishment of the project next year. The aim is for all pen-reared pandas to live in the wild and to diversify breeding among the pandas. The first phase of China Pandas Park Project has already been finished with a capacity of holding 10 pandas in a half-breeding environment.

-- source: People's Daily

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