Report: 30 pandas born in 2006 ups China's total to 217 bred in captivity

BEIJING — A mini-baby boom last year has pushed up the
number of pandas bred in captivity in China to 217, state media
said Wednesday.
Some 34 pandas were born by artificial insemination in 2006 and
30 survived — both record numbers for the endangered species, Cao
Qingyao, a spokesman for the State Forestry Administration, was
quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency.
The previous record was the 21 baby pandas born in China's zoos
and breeding centers in 2005.
China has been raising pandas through artificial insemination
for nearly 50 years, mostly at two research facilities in the
southwestern province of Sichuan. In 2006, 17 cubs were born at the
Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center and 12 at the
Chengdu Research Base. The other panda was bred at the zoo in the
southwestern city of Chongqing.
The panda is one of the world's rarest animals, with about 1,590
living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the western
province of Shaanxi.
Giant pandas have a very low fertility rate because they are
sexually inactive. Female pandas become pregnant only once a year
and deliver two cubs at most each time.
The fertility of captive giant pandas is even lower because they
do not move much, experts said.