Published: 14:36, August 24, 2020 | Updated: 19:15, June 5, 2023
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Three panda cubs born within a week
By Zhao Xinying

Panda Qin Qin plays with one of her newborn cubs at the Qinling Panda Breeding and Research Center in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, on Aug 22, 2020. (ZHANG BOWEN / XINHUA)

The Qinling Panda Breeding and Research Center in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province, cele­brated the births of three giant panda cubs  last week. 

On Aug 17, 6­-year-­old Yong Yong gave birth to a female cub weighing 152 grams at 12:56 pm. 

It was the first panda born at the center this year and Yong Yong’s first cub. 

She is the youngest mother at the center, said veterinarian Zhang Danhui. 

The Qinling Panda Breeding and Research Center in Xi'an cele­brated the births of three giant panda cubs last week, one female and another pair of twin females

“Generally, female pandas start to gain sexual maturity from the age of 5. A panda at 6-years-old is equivalent to a human 18-­year­-old,” he said. “From this perspec­tive, Yong Yong is a young mother.” 

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Being young, Yong Yong lacked experience taking care of her baby. But she’s a loving parent, according to staff at the center, and is trying to master all the skills required, including holding the cub in her arms and breast­ feeding, and has progressed a lot since the first few days after the baby was born. 

In contrast with Yong Yong, 7­-year-­old Qin Qin, who gave birth to twin females at the cen­ter on Saturday, is quite skillful and knows how to cuddle her cubs. 

Photos and videos shared by staff showed that one of the cubs was transferred to an incubator for better care, while the other was held by Qin Qin in her arms. The little pink baby stretched out her head from her mother’s chest from time to time and gave out little cries. 

Zhang said the elder daughter of Qin Qin was born at 1:04 pm on Saturday and the younger one was born about 50 minutes later. Preliminary examinations showed the two babies were in good health, with the older one weighing 136 g and the younger one 127 g. 

Zhang said Qin Qin got pregnant in February and had one of the longest pregnancies among all the pandas in the Qinling Mountains. 

“The average duration of preg­nancy for most pandas is about 140 days, while that of Qin Qin lasted for 180 days, which was beyond our expectations,” he said. 

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Zhang said six female pandas at the center got pregnant this year. The other four will soon give birth, adding to the panda family at the center. 

Although it was officially found­ed in Zhouzhi county, Xi’an, in June 2018, the Qinling Panda Breeding and Research Center started its work more than a dec­ade ago, focusing on panda protection, breeding and research in the Qinling Mountains, which stretch through the southern part of Shaanxi and act as the geographi­cal boundary between southern and northern China. 

The center has bred 24 panda cubs since 2003 and now has 31 captive­-bred pandas.