updated 9/1/2004 3:48:42 PM ET 2004-09-01T19:48:42

For pandas, it's practically a baby boom.

Two giant pandas were born this week, and mothers and cubs were doing fine, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

Giant pandas have a notoriously low rate of fertility, so the two births at the Wulong Nature Reserve, in southwestern China's Sichuan province, were cause for celebration.

Leilei, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to a cub early Monday. Just an hour later, a 14-year-old panda known as No. 20 delivered a second cub, Xinhua said.

"Both adult pandas seem to like their babies very much," Xinhua quoted Huang Yan, deputy chief engineer at Wulong, as saying. "They have been holding their cubs since birth and won't let them go, so we can't determine their sex or weight."

Another cub, born Aug. 25 to an 11-year-old panda named Eryatou, or "second daughter" in Chinese, died after a difficult 15 hours of labor that also endangered the mother panda's life, Xinhua said.

It said experts had used traditional herbal medicines to help prevent infection and ensure Eryatou would be able to reproduce in the future.

The report said Chinese zoologists have been successful in improving the birth rate of giant pandas in captivity, with more than 90 percent of artificially bred pandas surviving.

About 1,600 giant pandas survive in the wild, mostly in the mountains in southwestern China. Some 160 live in captivity.

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