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Beijing Zoo turns to dogs to nurse neglected panda

August 7, 2000
Web posted at: 4:35 PM EDT (2035 GMT)

BEIJING (Reuters) - Scores of Chinese dog lovers answered an unusual public plea by Beijing Zoo on Friday for a female dog to nurse a new-born giant panda.

"Panda seeks Mama Dog," read a headline in the Beijing Youth Daily, which published a zoo hotline number for dog owners.

"The response was very enthusiastic and we now have enough candidates," a zookeeper said.

Beijing Zoo's giant panda Lele gave birth to twin cubs on Thursday and was dubbed a "heroic mother" for producing her fourth and fifth offspring.

But zoo officials' delight at Lele's fertility soon turned to worry as they found she was nursing only one twin and neglecting the other because she could not produce enough milk to suckle both.

Artificial feeding with a formula made of dog milk protein, the zoo's normal recourse in such cases, was difficult with dog milk scarce in summer, when few canines are nursing, it said.

The baby panda is currently relying on a steady supply of milk from two dogs while the zoo widens its search for the perfect "Dog Mama"

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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