Europe

Giant panda Yang Yang gives birth in Vienna

Giant panda Yang Yang holds her newborn cub inside a birth box at Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna, Austria.
Image caption Giant panda Yang Yang cradles her new cub, born on Wednesday in Vienna

A giant panda cub has been born in the Austrian capital Vienna, only the third time a natural birth has happened in Europe.

Schoenbrunn zoo resident Yang Yang was seen cradling her new pink-skinned offspring, born on Wednesday and conceived naturally with partner Long Hui.

Most pandas in captivity are bred through artificial insemination.

All three recorded natural births have occurred in Vienna, staff say.

The 10-cm (4.5in) cub, weighing in at 100g (4oz) and covered in white fur, will remain in isolation with its mother for several months until the two decide themselves to leave their niche.

Zoo staff remain cautiously optimistic about the birth, while noting the high mortality rate for the endangered species.

"Although we are of course very happy, we must remain realistic. The mortality rate for giant pandas is around 40% during the first year," said Schoenbrunn zoo director Dagmar Schratter.

Only about 1,600 giant pandas are thought to remain in the wild, with some 300 in captivity. Female pandas are able to conceive for only two or three days in the spring, which makes reproduction difficult.

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