China works to save iconic golden monkeys

Aug. 31, 2012 at 3:45 PM
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WUHAN, China, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- China says it will create the first artificial breeding base for endangered golden monkeys, regarded, along with giant pandas, as a "state treasure."

The facility will be in the Shennongjia Nature Reserve in central China's Hubei Province, home to about 1,200 golden monkeys, China's official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

The goal is to increase the population of the endangered golden monkeys in Shennongjia by conquering key problems involved in their reproduction, reserve officials said.

In natural conditions, they said, the birth rate of Shennongjia golden monkeys is about 4 percent, with a survival rate of monkey cubs of 6 percent.

"It is still an unsolved scientific question why the golden monkeys in Shennongjia become pregnant [only] between August and October. And the female monkeys can only deliver one cub every two years," said Yang Jingyuan, director of the reserve's research institute.

Scientists will attempt to improve the monkey's pregnancy rates and success by human assistance techniques, artificial fertilization and nutritional regulation, Yang said.

Shennongjia golden monkeys, inhabiting thick forests at altitudes 5,500-9,800 feet, are on the verge of extinction, the researchers said.

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