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The 12 newborn pandas Chinese officials introduced the 12 newborn pandas to the public for the first time last week. (NewsCom)

Panda Baby Boom

Twelve newborn pandas in China raise hopes for the future of the endangered species

By Laura Leigh Davidson | null null , null
<p> PHOTO: Giant pandas are an endangered species. <br />(China Daily Information Corp - CDIC / Reuters) </p><p> MAP: Most of China’s remaining pandas live in Sichuan Province. <br />(Jim McMahon)</p>

PHOTO: Giant pandas are an endangered species.
(China Daily Information Corp - CDIC / Reuters)

MAP: Most of China’s remaining pandas live in Sichuan Province.
(Jim McMahon)

A group of baby pandas in China sunned their sleepy little faces in public for the first time last week. The panda-loving country’s newest celebrities were greeted by snapping cameras and cheers from admirers.

Twelve of the black-and-white snugglers were born over the last three months at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center in Sichuan Province, China. The newborns bring the total number of giant pandas living at the Chengdu Center to 108.

PANDA COMEBACK?

Giant pandas are an endangered species. China is believed to have the world’s largest population of the rare bears. The last census, or official count, of pandas was taken there 10 years ago. At the time, only 1,600 were found to live in the wild, most of them in Sichuan Province.

But scientists are hopeful that pandas are making a comeback. Panda trackers have set out to get a new estimate of how many of the bears are now living in China.

The researchers are conducting the new census by collecting wild-panda droppings for DNA analysis. The panda poop will help zoologists get a reliable estimate of the population and give them a better picture of pandas’ current living conditions.

The natural habitat, or home, of the giant panda has been shrinking due to human activity. For instance, agricultural and urban development have taken over many areas where pandas were living in the wild. The scarce black-and-white bears are also prizes for poachers, or illegal hunters. Baby pandas are precious too. A female panda gives birth to a cub only every two or three years.

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