Gi­ant panda may be mother again af­ter in­sem­i­na­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS -

TAIPEI — Fe­male gi­ant panda, Yuan Yuan, re­ceived ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day with sperm from male gi­ant panda Tuan Tuan at Taipei Zoo. Both born in 2004, the pair were given as a good­will gift to Tai­wan by the Chi­nese main­land in 2008. They had their first and only cub so far, Yuan Zai, on July 6, 2013, also by ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion.

The zoo has been at­tempt­ing to as­sist the pair to con­ceive again since 2015.

The zoo’s Eric Tsao said Yuan Yuan went into es­trus dur­ing Chi­nese Lu­nar New Year, a lit­tle ear­lier than usual.

Zoo staff spec­u­lated that the peak of Yuan Yuan’s es­trus came on Tues­day and let the pair stay in the same cage to try nat­u­ral mat­ing, but it failed as be­fore.

Sperm was col­lected from Tuan Tuan, and ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion was at­tempted on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Since Yuan Yuan’s es­trus had not come to an end, staff con­ducted a sec­ond ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Fe­male pan­das can only be­come preg­nant once a year and nor­mally have lit­ters of one or two cubs.

Eve Wang, cu­ra­tor of the gi­ant panda pavil­ion at Taipei Zoo, said Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan are still of child­bear­ing age, although they have passed the op­ti­mum pe­riod for giv­ing birth, which is from seven to 12 years old.

Yuan Zai, the fe­male cub of Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, is more than 4 years old, and close to sex­ual ma­tu­rity.

“We hope to find a hus­band for Yuan Zai, or use frozen sperm from a suit­able male. We need to have dis­cus­sions on the is­sue with the main­land,” Wang said.

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