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Endangered pandas have successful breeding season

Chen Lin, Benoit Tessier and Myriam Rivet, August 18, 2021 7:00PM Reuters

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A caretakeer keeps Huan Huan company before the birth of her twins at Beauval Zoo in France on August 2, which was followed by the birth of Kai Kai’s cub in Singapore this week in good news for the endangered species. Picture: Guillaume Souvant/AFP. media_cameraA caretakeer keeps Huan Huan company before the birth of her twins at Beauval Zoo in France on August 2, which was followed by the birth of Kai Kai’s cub in Singapore this week in good news for the endangered species. Picture: Guillaume Souvant/AFP.

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A Chinese giant panda at a Singapore wildlife park has given birth to a cub after seven years of trying. The first giant panda cub ever born in Singapore, its birth is an especially rare event as the pandas are endangered*.

Pandas Kai Kai, 13, and Jia Jia, 12, started their seventh breeding season in April this year with the help of artificial insemination*. The pandas arrived in Singapore in 2012 on a decade-long loan from China.

Weighing about 200g, the cub was born on August 14, but the gender* has not been confirmed. Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) told Reuters that mother and cub were doing well.

WRS said female giant pandas can display hormonal* and behavioural* signs of pregnancy without actually being pregnant, but the organisation detected* signs last month that a cub was on the way and the pregnancy was confirmed on August 10.

“Our vet picked up on ultrasound* not only a clear outline of a foetus*, but one with a strong heartbeat,” WRS said.

The newborn will appear in public in about three months.

Zoo de Beauval: les jumeaux pandas sont nés media_cameraGiant panda Huan Huan, which means “Happy” in Chinese, and her twin cubs inside their enclosure after she gave birth at Beauval Zoo on August 2. Picture: Guillaume Souvant/AFP.

This year has been a small but hopeful baby boom for the endangered species, with cubs also delivered by giant pandas on loan from China in France and Japan.

China has been sending its beloved black and white ambassadors* overseas in a sign of goodwill since the 1950s as part of what is known as “panda diplomacy*” and two baby pandas were born at Beauval Zoo in France on August 2. The zoo said in the announcement that the newborn cubs were in good health.

The mother panda Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi came to France from China in 2012. At the time, their arrival was hailed as a sign of warming diplomatic ties between Paris and Beijing.

While an adult female panda can weigh up to 125kg, a baby panda weighs barely 120g at birth.

Beauval Zoo: the panda twins are born media_cameraThe French-born twins already have a big brother, Yuan Meng, who was born on August 4, 2017. Picture: Guillaume Souvant/AFP.

GLOSSARY

  • endangered: at serious risk of extinction
  • artificial insemination: medical injection technique to assist females to become pregnant
  • gender: in this case, either of the two biological sexes, male or female
  • hormonal: relating to or involving hormones, for example in moods and feelings
  • behavioural: relating to behaviour, how someone or something acts
  • detected: discovered, identified, found
  • ultrasound: scan used in medical imaging
  • foetus: unborn offspring of a mammal
  • ambassador: representative, promoter, official envoy
  • diplomacy: managing international relations in a positive way

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many breeding seasons have the Singapore-based pandas been through?
  2. How long will it be before the cub is seen in public?
  3. What is its mother’s name?
  4. How many cubs did the Beauval Zoo in France welcome on August 2?
  5. How long have Huan Huan and her partner Yuan Zi been in France?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Weigh it up
The panda cub currently weighs around 200 grams. Make a list of other things that weigh around 200 grams.

Here are some ideas to help you:

Use a set of scales and weigh items that you find to see which ones weigh around 200 grams.

Look inside your fridge or pantry and find the weight displayed on different food packaging. Which items weigh about 200 grams?

Browse some supermarket catalogues or online stores to find items that weigh around 200 grams.

Challenge: Choose one of the items you listed. Calculate how many of them you would need to reach a total weight of 125 kilograms (the weight of an adult female giant panda). Do you think they would take up more or less space than an actual panda?

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics

2. Extension
Do some research about giant pandas and write five quiz questions. Test your questions out on a friend.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
1. Summarise the article

A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.

Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.

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