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10 - Parentage assessment among captive giant pandas in China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2009

Victor A. David
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Genomic Diversity
Shan Sun
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Genomic Diversity
Zhihe Zhang
Affiliation:
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Fujun Shen
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory for Reproduction and Conservation Genetics
Guiquan Zhang
Affiliation:
China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda
Hemin Zhang
Affiliation:
China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda
Zhong Xie
Affiliation:
Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens
Ya-Ping Zhang
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution
Oliver A. Ryder
Affiliation:
Conservation and Research for Endangered Species
Susie Ellis
Affiliation:
Conservation International
David E. Wildt
Affiliation:
National Zoological Park
Anju Zhang
Affiliation:
Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Foundation
Stephen J. O'Brien
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Genomic Diversity
David E. Wildt
Affiliation:
Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington DC
Anju Zhang
Affiliation:
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Hemin Zhang
Affiliation:
Wildlife Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas
Donald L. Janssen
Affiliation:
Zoological Society of San Diego
Susie Ellis
Affiliation:
Conservation Breeding Specialist Group
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

While many recent advances have been made in the breeding of giant pandas ex situ, historically this species has never reproduced well in captivity. Sexual incompatibility, health problems, low fecundity and a juvenile mortality rate in excess of 70% have contributed to low reproductive success (O'Brien & Knight, 1987; O'Brien et al., 1994; Peng et al., 2001a, b). Wild- and captive-born giant pandas, particularly those captured at a young age, traditionally had difficulty producing offspring in captivity upon becoming adults (Lu & Kemf, 2001). As a result, the ex-situ giant panda population has not been self-sustaining and, until recently, its growth has relied on introducing animals captured from nature. In some cases, this included individuals that appeared ill (rescues) or cubs that were believed to be neglected or abandoned by their mothers. Later field studies, however, revealed that females often leave cubs alone for four to eight hours while foraging, and in one documented case for 52 hours (Lu et al., 1994). Recently, China has placed a general moratorium on capturing wild giant pandas for captive breeding (Lu & Kemf, 2001), a move that forces the breeding community to develop a self-sustaining population.

The goal, however, is not only ensuring demographic self-sustainability but also the maintenance of genetic diversity. The deleterious effects of inbreeding are well recognised (O'Brien, 1994a; Frankham, 1995; Hedrick & Kalinowski, 2001; Frankham et al., 2002).

Type
Chapter
Information
Giant Pandas
Biology, Veterinary Medicine and Management
, pp. 245 - 273
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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