Video: Surprise panda born at zoo

updated 5/27/2009 12:40:34 PM ET 2009-05-27T16:40:34

A healthy panda cub was born Wednesday at a zoo in northern Thailand.

Staff artificially inseminated Lin Hui, a 7-year-old female, on Feb. 18, but had seen no signs she was pregnant, Chiang Mai Zoo's director Thananpat Pongamorn said.

"She's been anxious since yesterday. She did not want to get close to caretakers or any other people, but we didn't know what the problem was," Thananpat said. 

Lin Hui's cub screeched loudly as soon it was born early Wednesday, and appeared healthy, Thananpat said.

Zoo officials said they could not examine the newborn cub closely enough to determine its gender because it would get scared and was too vulnerable to disease, but that they would check when it was a week old.

The United States, Japan and Thailand are the only countries outside China to have bred pandas through artificial insemination, Thananpat said.

Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

More on  Pandas   |  Animal conservation

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