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Captive panda released to mate in wild for stronger species

CHENGDU, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Researchers in southwest China's Sichuan Province are seeing initial success in their experiment to encourage captive pandas to mate with wild ones in order to increase genetic diversity of the captive stock.

Female captive giant panda Cao Cao successfully mated with a wild male panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve, according to the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda on Friday.

Cao Cao, in heat, was released to the wild wearing a positioning system and a recording device on her neck. She was recaptured on March 27.

The recording showed that Cao Cao mated with a wild male panda on March 23. The mating lasted for one minute and 30 seconds.

Zhang Hemin, deputy head of the center, said the inbreeding of the captive bred pandas was reducing their fitness. The experiment aims to bring in genes from the wild pandas to make the captive pandas healthier.

More captive pandas will be sent to the wild for such experiments.


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