London, July 28 : Four giant panda cubs were born within 14 hours at a breeding centre in southwest China over the weekend. The birth boom began on Saturday at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Centre when Qiyuan, a nine-year-old bear whose name means Magic Luck, gave birth to female twins at 5:24 pm and 6:16 pm, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Eight-year-old Chenggong, or Success, gave birth to a cub a little more than an hour later, followed by 8-year-old Zhuzhu, or Pearl, who gave birth at 6:55 am the following morning, the centre's expert Yang Feifei said.
The breeding centre is currently raising 71 pandas in captivity.
The giant panda is revered as an unofficial national symbol of China.
Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in south-western Sichuan province.
The preserve is at the heart of China's gargantuan effort to use captive breeding and artificial insemination to save the giant panda.
Twelve pairs of panda twins were born in captivity in China last year, the most since an artificial breeding programme was launched more than 40 years ago.