The giant panda, long a symbol of the world's endangered species, is no longer threatened with extinction, according to China's foremost expert on the animal.
After a record 31 births in captivity this year, Zhang Hemin, the director of the China Research and Conservation Centre for the Giant Panda, in Wolong, Sichuan province, said breeding techniques had advanced to the point where cubs could be produced almost on demand.
Supporters of such methods hail this as a breakthrough for a mammal that - in captivity - has a reputation for shyness and a low sex drive.
There's a catch, of course:
However, critics see the advances as a distraction from the more important task of protecting the wild panda population by expanding their natural habitat in the upland forests of south-western China.
Thanks to the global spotlight, the pandas have been fortunate compared with other, less-glamorous species, which have moved closer to extinction as a result of hunting, fishing and habitat erosion.
Last month, an international expedition to search for the baiji dolphin in the Yangtze river failed to find a single specimen, raising the likelihood that man has killed off its first species of dolphin.
— Red Panda, RED Panda, Light Reading