|23rd August 2007
A giant panda gave birth to a cub in an Austrian zoo, Europe's first such event in 25 years, officials said.
The cub was born in Vienna's Tiergarten Schoenbrunn zoo, 127 days after mother Yang Yang mated with male Long Hui, both on extended loan to Austria from China.
Caretakers spied the tiny cub, weighing just 100 grams and measuring 10 cm, on a surveillance camera after hearing tiny whimpering sounds in Yang Yang's den.
"The panda was born without artificial insemination and that is extremely rare. We're incredibly happy," zoo director Dagmar Schratter told a crowded news conference.
"In the next hours we'll keep our fingers crossed that the cub is healthy. But the first hurdle has been overcome -- the mother has accepted her baby," she said.
Giant pandas, one of the world's rarest and most endangered species, live in the wild only in China and are notoriously loathe to breed in captivity. Females typically ovulate just once a year for a few days.
Schratter said around 40 percent of baby pandas did not live beyond a year. The last panda born in a zoo in Europe was in 1982 in Madrid, she said.
The zoo released a photograph showing Yang Yang holding the hairless cub gently in her mouth. The cub's sex can only be determined after three months.
Yang Yang and Long Hui were loaned to Austria in 2003 and are expected to remain there for about 10 years.
An estimated 1,600 wild giant pandas live in nature reserves in China's Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.
|The Giant Panda inspects the tiny new addition to the family - the first panda born in Europe in 25 years|
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