Giant panda twins reach milestone at Altanta Zoo

- Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only two giant panda twins in the US, have reached a new milestone as they now enjoy all-day play in their dayroom habitat, the Atlanta Zoo said on Thursday.

The twin girls, who turned 6 months old in on March 6, now weigh around 9.5 kilograms (Ya Lun) and 10 kilograms (Xi Lun).

The mother, Lun Lun, first brought her offspring into their dayroom habitat in December 2016, since then "they have been spending more and more time in the habitat", the zoo said.

According to the Atlanta Zoo, the pair are "very able runners and climbers".

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) upgraded the giant panda's status from "endangered" to "vulnerable" in September 2016, but the species remains heavily reliant on conservation programmes.

Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, where they face continuing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.

More than 1,200 of China's remaining wild giant pandas live inside nature reserves, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta.

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