Image: Meimei
Adventure World  /  Kyodo News via AP
In this photo released by Adventure World in Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, Giant Panda "Meimei" holds her newborn twins, first baby on top and the second in bottom, in the zoo Saturday.
updated 12/24/2006 3:38:05 PM ET 2006-12-24T20:38:05

The 2006 panda baby boom continues.

Twin pandas have been born at a zoo in western Japan. Officials report one of the babies is considered premature, but both are in good condition. The zoo has not yet confirmed the sex of the cubs.

According to China's Xinhua (shin-wah) News Agency, that brings the number of artificially bred pandas born this year to 30, a record. But zoo officials in Japan say they're not sure whether the cubs born Saturday were the result of natural mating or artificial insemination. The zoo has two adult pandas on loan from China.

The panda is one of the world's rarest animals. About 15,000 are thought to be living in the wild in China. Another 180 have been bred in captivity.

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