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Longest-ever delivery results in heaviest panda cub in China
BEIJING, Aug 8 (AFP) Aug 08, 2006
A giant panda has scored two records in one go after the longest-ever delivery resulted in the heaviest cub to emerge from China's artificial breeding program, state media said Tuesday.

Zhang Ka, aged six, gave birth to a 218-gram (7.6-ounce) male on Monday after spending 34 hours in labor at the China Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in the nation's southwest, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Most panda cubs born in captivity weigh between 83 and 190 grams, Xinhua said, citing the China Giant Panda Breeding Technology Committee.

Thirty-four hours is a long time, even in the slow-moving world of the panda, and veterinarians were getting ready to perform a Caesarian when the pink creature emerged from its mother's womb by itself, Xinhua said.

According to the center in Sichuan province, Zhang Ka went into heat in early March and subsequently mated. Experts also performed artificial insemination to make sure she conceived, according to Xinhua.

The famously sexually inactive giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species with an estimated 1,590 in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan.

Just over 180 more pandas, including those at Wolong, are in research centres in China, with a handful of others sent around the world to zoos.

Those numbers received a further boost with twin pandas each giving birth to twin cubs on Sunday and Monday at the Chengdu Giant Panda Reproduction and Research Center also in Sichuan, Xinhua reported in another dispatch.

Six pandas have now been born in captivity in China this year, Xinhua said.

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