Giant panda
Giant panda REUTERS/China Daily

A giant panda in China has given birth to twins, which conservationists have claimed is the first of its kind this year. 

The female panda named Haizi gave birth to twins on Saturday at the Wolong Nature Reserve, a 494,000-acre complex spread across the Sichuan Province of Southwest China. The first panda cub was born at 4.53 pm local time and the second one was born 10 minutes later, according to Xinhua news agency.

Pandas are mostly not good breeders in captivity as females are in estrus (sexual desire) for two to four days each year. They have to become pregnant during this short period of time. In some cases, the panda pairings could be incompatible which makes it difficult for the females to become pregnant.

Female pandas give birth to twins sporadically and tend to ignore one of the cubs. In March, Haizi became pregnant after mating with two males - Bai Yang and Yi Bao. The workers at the China Conservation and Research Center have said that the panda cubs are healthy looking at their size and the sounds they make, reported the Agence-France Presse news agency.

The second-born cub is a female weighing about 79.2 grams. Staffs at the Wolong reserve have not been able to determine the gender of the first-born cub as the mother is still holding it in her arms.

The giant pandas were once found widespread throughout southern and eastern China as well as in Myanmar (Burma) and northern Vietnam. But they are now found in small, isolated patches in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Based on a survey conducted in 2004, conservationists have estimated that the population of giant pandas in the wild stands at 1,600. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the species as "endangered" in its red list of threatened species.

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