Giant panda Ju Xiao has given birth to triplets in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. It is a rare occasion, and the cubs are in good health, giving them a good chance of survival.
The as yet unnamed cubs are the only known surviving triplets worldwide. They were born on July 29. Authorities delayed the announcement of their birth to make sure they were strong enough to have a good chance of survival.
The gender of the cubs cannot be determined until they grow older, which is why they will not be named now.
"The chances of having triplet cubs are very low but it's not the first time, actually it's the fourth time," said Li Desheng, deputy director of the center's Wolong panda breeding base in the south-western province of Sichuan told the news agency DPA.
"The past three times, some of them didn't survive beyond six months," Li told dpa by telephone. "At this moment they are in good condition and the chances of them surviving are quite high," he added. The triplets' survival beyond six months "would be considered a breakthrough for panda breeding," Li said.
'Wonder of the world'
The cubs were put into incubators while mother Ju Xiao regained her strength after an exhausting delivery. They have now been brought back to their mother for nursing and are being attended to by a round-the-clock team of feeders, the zoo said on Tuesday.
The zoo described the triplets as a "new wonder of the world" as triplets are very rare, and the mortality rates of panda cubs generally is very high.
Pandas whose natural habitat lies in mountainous southwestern China, have a notoriously low reproductive rate. China has about 1,600 pandas living in the wild. Around 300 pandas live in captivity around the world.
ng/kms (dpa, AP, AFP)