Baby pandas are rare to come by, and these two twin cubs are even more special.
He He and Mei Mei are the world’s first set of panda twins that have one parent from the wild and one parent in captivity.
Born at a panda base in south-western China’s Wolong last July, the brother and sister are nearly one year old now.
They have grown from pink and hairless newborns to fluffy, black-and-white cubs.
Pictures taken this week at China’s Shenshuping Panda Base show the cute siblings enjoying their life at the base’s ‘panda nursery’.
They were taken out of a dormitory on a bright sunny day this week to gulp milk and munch bamboo in front of some 100 visitors.
After eating, the cubs tumbled on the grass and played on a swing before they were returned to their cool dormitory for a noon nap.
The twins live in the base in Sichuan province with 70 other pandas.
Elder brother He He, or Harmony, and younger sister Mei Mei, or Beautiful, are named after two panda characters in popular Chinese cartoons.
The 10-month-old baby pandas are the cubs of 17-year-old Cao Cao, which mated with wild male pandas after being released from captivity last February.
On Wednesday, the two cubs were officially certified to be the world’s first pair of pandas born to both captive and wild parents by Guinness World Records.
The recognition marked the success in China’s attempt to introduce genes of wild pandas into the captive population.
There is a 50 percent chance for panda parents to produce twins, but making He He and Mei Mei was ‘very tough’, said Liu Xiaoqiang, head of the Hetaoping panda base animal management department.
It took their mother more than a month to mate with a wild male after she was taken to a wild panda habitat.
There was no human interference during the mating process.
‘The genetic diversity of the captive population is still quite limited, so we need to introduce some fresh blood from the wild,’ Liu told AFP.
The birth of the twins is ‘a big step forward’ in enriching genetic diversity and the success will allow researchers to make similar attempts in the future, Liu added.
He He is a notorious troublemaker, famous for eating extraordinarily fast and stealing everyone else’s food – except his sister’s.
Mei Mei, on the other hand, is very quiet and loves to follow her handlers around.
‘I hope they can… grow up strongly, healthily and happily,’ Li Feng said, ‘so when they mature, they can bring more babies to our panda family.’
There are an estimated 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild and 300 in zoos and breeding centers around the world.
Attribution:The Daily Mail