Image: Panda mother and baby
AP
A mother panda named Hua Mei hugs her newborn baby at the Bifengxia base of the Wolong China Panda Protection and Research Center in Ya'an, in southwest China's Sichuan province.
updated 9/19/2010 3:47:17 PM ET 2010-09-19T19:47:17

An American-born panda gave birth to her eighth cub in southwest China, a rare accomplishment for the endangered species known for being poor breeders.

Hua Mei gave birth to a male cub at 3 a.m. local time on Friday at the Wolong China Giant Panda Research Center in Sichuan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said Friday. The cub weighed 5.7 ounces at birth.

This brings the number of panda births at the Wolong center to 16 this year, equal to last year's total, the report said.

Hua Mei — whose name means China-America — was the first giant panda cub born in the United States in 1999, at the San Diego Zoo, after a decade of failed breeding attempts. She returned to China in 2003 and now has eight cubs, including three sets of twins.

Panda females have only three days a year during which they can conceive — one reason their species is endangered. Some males never succeed at natural breeding, so artificial insemination has become common practice when breeding captive pandas.

Pandas are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching and a low reproduction rate. Females in the wild normally have a cub once every two or three years. The fertility of captive giant pandas is even lower, experts say.

Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in Sichuan province. An additional 290 are in captive breeding programs worldwide.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Animal Tracks: Aug. 4  - Aug. 11

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  1. Chimp off the old block

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  2. Cow caress

    Emma Leis lays on a cow at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wisconsin, on Aug. 9. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. When pigs flee

    Pigs race at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wisconsin, on Aug. 9. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Dog takes catnap

    A 29-day-old Labrador puppy sleeps against a tree at a courtyard in Beijing on Aug. 10. (Jason Lee / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Busy bee

    A bee gathers nectar along Skyline Drive in Shenadoah National Park in Virginia on Aug. 9. (Karen Bleier / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Bright butterfly

    An eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly flies in Shenadoah National Park in Virginia on Aug. 9. (Karen Bleier / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Seeing double

    A gorilla is reflected in a window at the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Sven Hoppe / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Blooming plumage

    A peacock displays his plumage at the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Sven Hoppe / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rock on

    A 9-month-old baby samang, a tailless, black-furred gibbon native to forests in Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra province, holds onto a rock during a Hindu ritual ceremony in Bali, Indonesia, on Aug. 9. (Firdia Lisnawati / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Sitting pretty

    Parrots look around at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Meerly looking

    A meerkat stands and watches visitors at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. At the end of their rope

    Pig-tailed macaques climb on a rope at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The eyes have it

    A snow owl at the ZOOM Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. On the prowl with a growl

    A tiger walks around at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Big bad wolf

    Chingiz, a male Siberian forest wolf, walks around inside an open-air cage at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Russia on Aug. 8. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Washing up

    Masha, a female raccoon, holds a piece of cloth in a pan with water, placed by zoo employees, at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Russia on Aug. 8. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Teeny turtle

    A zoo worker holds a newborn river terrapin on display at Dusit Zoo in Bangkok on Aug. 8. The River Terrapin is one of the most critically endangered turtle species. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Lengthy lick

    A giraffe licks its face at the Philadelphia Zoo on Aug. 7. (Michael Zorn / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. National bird

    An American bald eagle surveys its surroundings at the Philadelphia Zoo on Aug. 7. (Michael Zorn / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Silly seal

    A young seal emerges from the water in Friedrichskoog, Germany, on Aug. 7. (Daniel Bockwoldt / DPA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Leaving the hospital

    Crowds of beach goers watch Mitchell, a 65-pound juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, crawl back to the ocean during the release of rehabilitated sea turtles on Aug. 6 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. The turtle which accidentally swallowed a fishing hook and had it surgically removed by the sea turtle hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston. (Richard Ellis / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Pampered pachyderms

    An elephant keeper sprinkles coconut oil on orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage within Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Aug. 6. (Thomas Mukoya / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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