World`s first giant panda born from frozen sperm: Report
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Last Updated: Friday, July 24, 2009, 17:48
Beijing: The first giant panda conceived through artificial insemination with frozen sperm was born in China's Sichuan province, a breakthrough for breeding the endangered species, researchers said on Friday.

Eleven-year-old You You gave birth yesterday to a baby giant panda that appeared healthy at the Ya'an base, said Huang Yan, a researcher with the 'China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center' of the Wolong nature reserve.

The researcher claimed that it was the first artificial fertilization using frozen panda sperm at southwest Sichuan province. "It can avoid inbreeding of giant pandas and increase the diversity of the species," he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency. It is You You's third baby, and the 10th panda cub born at Wolong this year.

Artificial insemination is commonly used for breeding pandas, which have a very low sex drive. Huang said with the technology, "we can keep the sperm frozen for decades". "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," he underlined.

The pandas were moved 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.

In 2006, 34 pandas were born through artificial insemination in China and 30 survived - both record numbers for the endangered species. However, using panda sperm that has been frozen earlier - instead of from an immediate donor - had not been successful before.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, July 24, 2009, 17:48

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