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.