Online panda game to raise global awareness

China Daily/ANN

Jiang Xuefan, a visitor from Beijing, had a pleasant surprise when she came across 12 panda twins in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, on Saturday.

Taking photos of the cubs with her phone at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on the last day of her visit to the province, the 58-year-old Jiang kept saying, "So cute."

When a keeper taking one of the cubs to its den passed her, Jiang lost no time in asking her husband to take a photograph of her with them.

The base was holding a global event, Discovering Twin Cubs, in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme.

The aim is to promote awareness of panda preservation by inviting Internet surfers to name the birthdates and panda parents of the 12 cubs that were born at the base this year.

Photos and video clips of the 12 will be uploaded online, showing when they opened their eyes for the first time, when their bodies changed from the pink to black-and-white, when they started trying to crawl and when they managed to crawl well, base chief Zhang Zhihe said.

The pandas' family trees and personality traits will also be uploaded.

Two winners who name the dates correctly will have the right to name the two cubs born to Jing Jing, a mascot for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, during Spring Festival next year, Zhang said.

Jing Jing, 10, became a mother for the first time on Aug 2 when she gave birth to the two male cubs.

The Chengdu panda base, set up on Futou Hill in the northern suburbs of Chengdu in 1987 with six hungry and sick pandas rescued from the wild, is the world's only panda base located in a city.

From June 22 to Sept 16, it witnessed the record birth of 12 panda twins over a short period of time, bringing the number of its captive pandas to 152.

Hou Rong, head of the research centre at the base, said, "We don't know why there was a record birth of twin cubs. Maybe it had something to do with improved panda breeding management."

Patrick Haverman, deputy country director for the United Nations Development Programme, said that two panda twinsbornat the Chengdubase on Sept 16 had become image ambassadors for the UNDP.