China will sharply limit its loans of giant pandas for foreign exhibit in an effort to halt commercial exploitation of the rare animals, a Forestry Ministry official said Wednesday.

The official Xinhua News Agency meanwhile reported that all loans of pandas and snub-nosed monkeys to the United States were being suspended "so as to protect the endangered species."China, the only country where pandas live in the wild, estimates that fewer than 1,000 remain, threatened by poachers and deforestation.

However, Zhang Yushan of the Forestry Ministry, which has charge of conservation, said the new policy affects all countries, not just the United States, and does not completely rule out future loans.