SHANGHAI (AP) — Ten giant panda cubs will be on display at the Shanghai World Expo next year at the city’s zoos, giving tens of millions of Chinese and foreign visitors a glimpse at the highly endangered species.
The six females and four males will arrive in Shanghai in January and spend six months at the Shanghai Zoo and six months at Wild Zoo of Shanghai, said Cai Youming, deputy director of the Shanghai Forestry Bureau.
All the pandas were born at the country’s main panda research base in Sichuan province after the May 2008 earthquake that killed or left missing nearly 90,000 people, Cai said.
The Expo, due to begin May 1 and run for six months, is expected to draw 70 million visitors, most of them Chinese.
The Shanghai Zoo, which already has three older giant pandas, has refurbished its panda house to accommodate the new arrivals, part of a bumper crop of pandas born last year despite damage to the panda reserve and breeding center from the earthquake.
Pandas are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching and a low reproduction rate. Females in the wild normally have a cub once every two or three years. The fertility rate of captive giant pandas is even lower.
Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. An additional 120 pandas are in Chinese breeding facilities and zoos, and about 20 live in zoos outside China.