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Three More for Panda Baby Boom

Three panda cubs have been born in the past two days at a breeding base in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, just in time to receive the title of "Olympic pandas."

On Sunday evening an 18-year-old giant panda named Ya Ya gave birth to her twelfth cub, the gender of which is not yet known.

One day earlier, 8-year-old Cheng Ji gave birth to a pair of twins, a male and a female, who were then named after two of the Beijing Games' mascots - Ying Ying and Ni Ni.

As the result of a breeding scheme launched this spring, the giant panda base has seen a baby boom in recent months. Altogether twenty cubs, including eight sets of twins, have been born since July 6.

There are about 1,590 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the northwest provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. And from 2007, the number of captive bred giant pandas was 239 in the country, according to Xinhua News Agency.

( August 25, 2008)

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