A total of 36 giant panda cubs, all born in 2017 at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, made their first public appearance at two bases the centre has in China's south-west Sichuan Province. The program bred 42 cubs during 2017, reports said.

Researchers at the base told China's People's Daily that the large number of cubs had broken the centre's breeding record – adding that, on the technical side, this year's hormone monitoring had been much more efficient.

Of the 42 cubs bred this year, there are 15 pairs of twins. The centre's deputy head, Zhang Hemin, told CCTV: "The number of cubs born this year shows our preservation and breeding techniques have matured."

Keepers have been on duty around the clock to care for the baby bears, especially as some were born to inexperienced first-time mothers who needed some help with their tykes.

In 2016, some hailed the success of conservation programs as giant pandas left the endangered list and instead moved to the lesser classification of 'vulnerable'. Other warned against complacency as the adorable bamboo-eating bear still faces multiple threats to its existence.

"The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity," said WWF director-general Marco Lambertini at the time.

WWF China CEO Lo Sze Ping said: "Everyone should celebrate this achievement, but pandas remain scattered and vulnerable, and much of their habitat is threatened by poorly planned infrastructure projects. Remember: there are still only 1,864 left in the wild."