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GIANT PANDA CAPTIVE BREEDING WWFs policy on captive breeding is that The productive management of captive pandas would be helpful in ensuring the long-term survival of the species All potential breeding animals in captivity should be included in an integrated programme whose main aim should be to provide animals for re-introduction into the wild WWF urges all institutions in the world which currently hold pandas to contribute fully to this breeding programme There are currently 23 pandas at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong and an estimated total of 103 animals in captivity worldwide Along with fieldwork Chinese scientists have worked continuously to improve the success rate of captive breeding of the Giant Pandas This has proved to be quite a challenge all the more so since pandas are only receptive to breeding for a very brief period in late spring or early summer Research efforts have however paid off Since 1991 natural mating has resulted in eight births at the Wolong centre In addition to experience gained over the years at Wolong the recent success of births can be attributed to improved cooperation between Chinas Ministry of Forestry and the countrys zoos involved in panda breeding as well as to an exchange of information and technology between Chinese and western scientists Some problems are however still experienced with animal husbandry particularly the care and welfare of infants Disease and rejection by the mother have been the main cause of death among cubs Investigation of these and other aspects of panda reproduction now form an active part of the ongoing research programme THREATS The main threats to the Giant Panda are habitat destruction and poaching Young animals are caught for zoos and adults are killed for their pelts which are used to make coats and sleeping mats These mats are claimed to allow the sleeper to predict the future and
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