updated 2/26/2007 8:02:18 AM ET 2007-02-26T13:02:18

China's first panda cub of the year has survived the crucial first three days of her life, state media reported Monday.

The female cub weighed just 3.2 ounces at birth, but has grown to 3.4 ounces in the three days, increasing her chances of survival, Xinhua News Agency said.

The panda was being cared for by the China Panda Protection and Research Center in Sichuan province.

The still nameless female was born to a 13-year-old giant panda named Ji Ni, the oldest panda to deliver a first cub, the report said.

The panda is one of the world's rarest animals, with about 1,590 living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the southwestern province of Shaanxi.

Giant pandas have a very low fertility rate because they are sexually inactive, so Chinese scientists have been breeding pandas through artificial insemination for nearly 50 years.

Thirty-four pandas were born by artificial insemination in 2006 and 30 survived — both record numbers for the endangered species.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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