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Two Olympic Pandas Born in SW China, Named for Mascots

A 9-year-old giant panda gave birth to two cubs on Sunday morning at a breeding base in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Mother Qi Zhen, or Magic Treasure, delivered the twins at 10:35 AM and 10:50 AM at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center.

Born two days after the opening of the Olympics, the cubs were named after two of the Games' mascots, Bei Bei and Huan Huan.

Huan Huan, female, weighs 98 grams. No information on the first-born Bei Bei is available, as Qi Zhen has refused to let the cub be examined by research staff.

The Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center has seen the birth of eight giant pandas this year, bringing the number of pandas at the center to 75.

Qi Zhen's twin sister, Qi Yuan, or Magic Luck, gave birth to a pair of female cubs weighing 135 grams and 132 grams in late July.

Giant pandas, known for being sexually inactive, are among the world's most endangered animals due to a shrinking habitat.

There are about 1,590 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu.

(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2008)

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