Beijing: A female panda raised in captivity but mated in the wild has given birth, a first for China's panda breeding programmes aiming to help diversify the population's gene pool.
Cao Cao, 15, gave birth to a male cub at Hetaoping Wild Training Base, Southwest China's Sichuan Province at about 2 am yesterday.
The birth marked the first time a panda was released into the wild and successfully mated, China National Radio (CRI) reported.
The cub weighs 216 grammes, well above the 150 gram average, experts said.
Cao Cao, already the mother of six cubs - including two pairs of twins - was the first to be chosen for the pilot breeding program, CRI reported.
As the number of captive pandas increases, the biggest problem the population faces is genetic diversity, Zhang Hemin, deputy head of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, told media.
Researchers hope to broaden the gene pool by allowing captive pandas to mate with wild pandas, state-run Xinhua reported.
As of November last year there were 471 captive pandas worldwide, the report said....