It’s always amazing news when a new baby animal is born, especially when they are part of an endangered species. Each new birth is a sign of hope for the survival of a species threatened by extinction.
That was the case recently after a giant panda mom gave birth to a pair of beautiful newborn twins, an arrival celebrated as a major win for the species conservation efforts.
According to AP, the twins — one male and one female — were born Tuesday at the Qinling Panda Research Center in Shaanxi province, China, which aims to help save the panda population by breeding them in captivity.
The mother, Qin Qin, was impregnated through artificial insemination, and the father has not been reported. It is Qin Qin’s second set of twins: she also gave birth in 2020.
In this early stage, you’d hardly recognize the newborns as giant pandas: they are tiny, pink and blind. According to National Geographic, newborn pandas are born just 1/900th the weight of their mother, making them among the smallest newborns compared to their mom.
But the pandas are in good care with their mom, and are reportedly doing well. One day soon, they’ll grow up to be the iconic black-and-white animals we know and love.
Giant pandas have very low reproductive rates, due to their short fertility windows: female pandas only have a 36-hour window every year to get pregnant.
This low birth rate, combined with habitat loss and climate change, has long made them one of the world’s most vulnerable species. While, thanks to conservation efforts, they are no longer listed as endangered, they are still at risk.
Which is why breeding giant pandas in captivity is such an important, and challenging, task. According to AP, many of the giant pandas bred in captivity have been released back into the wild, though others live in zoos and on reserves.
The twins’ arrival is being hailed as a sign of progress during a time when giant pandas still face threats in the wild: high temperatures in their native China have caused forest fires, further destroying their natural habitat, and they continue to be encroached by farm land.
What beautiful newborn giant pandas. Giant panda births are so rare, and this species is so vulnerable, that every new arrival is an amazing sign of hope.
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