TOKYO (AFP) — A giant panda cub whose rare birth by artificial insemination led to rejoicing in Japan died on Friday after just three days, zoo officials said.
The cub was the first panda to be born through artificial insemination in Japan in two decades, raising hopes of future success in breeding the crowd-pleasing but notoriously infertile animals.
But Oji Zoo in the western city of Kobe said the cub was confirmed dead Friday afternoon.
"Zoo officials and veterinarians were monitoring it 24 hours a day, but it ended with a sad result," the zoo said on its website.
The cub was just 25 centimetres (10 inches) long and weighed 100 grammes (3.5 ounces).
Its sex had not yet been determined, and zoo officials said the cause of death was under investigation.
Captive giant pandas are known for their low sex drive, which is exacerbating falling numbers as their natural habitat in southwestern China is encroached on by development.
Artificial insemination has also proved difficult as the female panda is only fertile once a year.
The baby's mother, Dan Dan, became pregnant with the sperm of Xing Xing. Both pandas are 12 years old and live at the Kobe zoo.
Dan Dan also had a stillborn baby, conceived through natural means, last year.
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