"Will they or won't they?" has been the classic tantalizing question behind the romantic tensions between TV couples. It's the same for pandas, except there's more at stake.
Hopes were high among conservationists that female panda Tian Tian (Sweetie) and male panda Yang Guang (Sunshine) would mate during breeding season at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. It appears they have "hit it off" and are attracted to each other, but so far they haven't actually had sex, and a successful mating between them has become more unlikely, according to a zoo statement released this week.
Experts had determined, based on hormone testing and behavioral observation, that this was the right time for the two exotic and adorable animals to meet. But, as the zoo stated, it was "close, but no cigar."
Pandas are an endangered species. There are less than 1,600 in the wild, and climate change threatens their natural habitat. That's why conservationists are so keen on the production of baby pandas - not just for more cuteness in the world, but to help the survival of the species.
Why is it so hard for pandas to have sex?
It's been long known that panda females experience sexual excitement only before ovulation, in a narrow window of time that occurs once a year. The window is open only 24 to 72 hours, sometime between February and May.
A new study in Papers-in-Press of the journal Biology of Reproduction suggests that seasonality also plays a role in male pandas' ability to mate in many important ways that have not been so closely examined before.
For instance, male pandas' sperm generally improves during the winter, reaches its best quality in March and April and declines in May; sperm production abruptly ends in June. Production of the male hormone testosterone, and other male reproductive indicators, also follow that pattern.
This seasonality is what's found in China, and is correlated with the number of hours of sunlight per day, said Copper Aitken-Palmer, veterinarian at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and study leader.
"The more we understand what’s normal, the better we are able to identify in captivity animals that may be different, and maybe identify the ones that are not as reproductively successful," she said.
In Australia, where seasons are reversed, pandas are still most reproductively fit in spring, even though the specific spring months are different in the southern hemisphere. The latitude of Scotland, being different from China, may even affect pandas there, she said.
"The more we’re able to learn about giant pandas in general, the better we’re able to provide or implement guidelines for their protection, or guidelines for their management in captivity," Aitken-Palmer said.
Update: A number of readers asked about artificial insemination in pandas. This is a common practice for captive pandas, Aitken-Palmer tells us. For instance, every baby panda born at Zoo Atlanta has been the result of artificial insemination, and most groups with giant pandas in the United States, Europe and China participate in assisted reproduction techniques.
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I dont see whats so hard about it
Maybe they hear you sneaking up on them,they never hear me
Let them go extinct if they can't make it in the wild. We should also remove them from every zoo until the Chinese government removes the $1,000,000 annual fee they charge zoo's for keeping them alive and the $600,000 fee they charge per birth. We are basically paying China to keep these animals endangered because there is no incentive for them to deal with the issue.
Maybe humans could teach them how to have s e x , and in turn, they could teach us how to do Kung Fu.
I bet I could get a female panda to mate outside of that 72 hour window. Not saying it would result in a pregnancy or save the species, but she'd be making the "o" face.
People need to realize the problems breeding ARE IN CAPTIVITY! There is no evidence to support there being issues breeding in the wild. Pandas are solitary, and like the tiger, require LARGE
"There is no evidence to support there being issues breeding in the wild"- You mean besides the fact that they are going extinct?
Jay, wasn't finished yet :p
so you just stop typing and ignore the rest of what your stupid comment was saying
STUPID PAGE REFRESH! GRRR :)
They require large patches of land for food and shelter. Habitat loss by clear-cutting and deforestation as well as villages increasing has reduced panda interaction and population. Pandas have NO predators other than HUMANS. They do quite well when left alone. Humans destroying their territory and killing them for their pelts and body parts is what has lead to their decline.
And remember, protecting the panda and their habitat protects ALL the animals in that area, the snub-nosed monkey, red panda, tigers, antelope, etc. All species are helped.
Let them go extinct. Extinction is a natural course of life. Some esimate about 40 billion species have gone extinct since life began. In fact, more complex the creature, the higher the likelihood of extinction. When an animal's primary food hold such little nutrition that they have to eat all day to get by, and they have an extreamly difficult time mating, I say their days on earth are numbered, cute and cuddly or not.
So what do you suggest? That we thin the human herd?
Last I checked, the existence of humans did not change the "survival of the fittest" rule. I'm sure when T. Rex came to prominence a lot of slower, weaker dinosaurs went extinct because they could not deal with the environmental change of being constantly eaten. No doubt the successful existence of humans will threaten certain other species.
The difference of course is that we humans have SOME control over whether those species go extinct. But we do not have total control over it. We can help some species, but in exchange those species need to be able to make some adjustments. Obviously, despite our greatest efforts, the panda cannot make those adjustments. As bad as I may feel about that, I'm not going to point fingers of blame at anyone. We are trying, but short of thinning our own herd there is nothing else we can do.
Nature will ultimately "thin our herd" as you so well put it...
only problem with that is the poachers that the government is having a hard time controlling so the captive breeding populations may be the panda's only hope.
So what? The female humans I know also require LARGE!
I think I must be part panda
LOL U WISH U WAS PART PANDA..;
I WISH I WERE A PANDA RITE NOW LOL..
OMG HOW ABOUT WE TYPE EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPS!
LOL..YU ALL SHOULD JUST LEAVE PANDA ALONE.../ THATS HOW BLAKK BARBIE SEES IT..
LOL../YU ALL SHOLD LEAVE PANDA ALONE....
A perfect example of america's finest. And incase you could not figure it out, that was sarcasm and you desperately need to learn how to spell "blakk barbie"
LOL..!! LEAVE PANDA ALONE/.. THAT'S HOW I SEE IT
itds da pandaaa beaarr lifee to doo wadd he wanna wenn hee wannna dhetsss howww ipheeeel abouddd iddd<
are you black or mexican?
Sounds like sunshine played his cards too slow and landed in the "friend zone"
Perhaps it is time for some "Panda Viagra"?
MAYBE SHE SMELLS LIKE FISH. THAT TURNS ME OFF.
omqeee youuu soo crassyyyy smh
Throw a bottle of wine, a pair of cuffs, and a copy of 50 shades of grey in the cage, that should get her going.
The zookeepers should suggest to the male to play "Just the tip"
24-72 hours window yearly...holy crap I think I my wife is a Panda
No, it means that you`re not hot anymore hahaahaa
OMG, you just killed me!!! LOLOLOL!
Just immobilize them and do it artificially like they do with HUNDREDS of other animals that won't cooperate. It's either that or start thinking about dyeing some brown bears or polar bears to look like pandas for the time when these two will die....
Did you read the articel?
no he just figured out the problem was they wouldn't breed with each other by guessing
i think boo was referreing to the idea that it seemed the post he was replying to assumed that this article was stating that there were, in fact, only two remaining panda bears on earth, in captivity, and they were having problems mating...
It may just be that way some day...who knows
Either artificially impregnate the female panda or let them go extinct. If they only have a 3 day a year window for reproduction then its pretty clear that they won't survive as a species with humans around. So either we save it ourselves or let it go bye bye.
Hi Harry, I've updated with information about artificial insemination. Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth Landau, CNN
Just leave a bottle of tequila in the pen and play some Barry Manilow. It'll work, trust me.
We're trying to get them to mate, not kill them.
Ya got that right boxster........
More dumb comments after my post. What's wrong with you people?
I guess some people like to make "asses" of themselves!
What, they're Chinese and don't know how to schtuppe? Or why? Isn't that why they invented extinction?
If this critter is so daft it can't even procreate to save itself, I've got some Sweet Baby Ray's I'd love to introduce to the nearest couple of worthless pandas.
Get a turkey baster... I mean seriously. If you want to save it, then SAVE it, do something. What kind of creature evolves with a 3 day fertility? Just let it go extinct, it deserves it for being so dumb.
Eh Panda BBQ.. it's what's for dinner
What is your problem?
Thing he may have many problems and BIG ones..
Pandas have been evolving for millions of years with their three-day fertility per year. It's not the pandas that are dumb, it's the people who have taken their land from them and made it difficult for them to find each other to mate. They don't have problems mating in the wild. They are very special animals that, instead of being worthless, are worth millions to the countries that want to display them to their citizens. Please, know what you are speaking of before responding.
If this critter is so stu pid it can't even have se x to save itself, I've got some Sweet Baby Ray's I'd love to introduce to the panda.
Get a turkey baster... I mean seriously. If you want to save it, then SAVE it, stop cry ing about the plight of the panda, when you leave the idi otic critters to mess it up. 3 day fertility? I mean really? Just let the st upid thing go extinct. What a dum b creature.
The pandas have not mated because you people are watching them all the time. Put them in a bedroom and shut the door so they have some privacy.
Get a turkey baster... I mean seriously. If you want to save it, then SAVE it, stop crying about the plight of the panda, when you leave the idiotic critters to mess it up. 3 day fertility? I mean really? Just let the stupid thing go extinct. What a dumb creature.
We have now created a whole new class of "Panda People" in this country. The Panda is not even expected to reproduce the good old fashioned way, much like the Americans who are no longer required to do anything remotely resembling work anymore. We rush to provide for them at the first signs of discomfort. It is the Panda that inspired "Bailouts, Bulimia, and Panda Bears: The Legacy of America's Last Free Generation". Go to derekpuckett.com to read about it.
Some of these commenters are so stupid. Of course pandas should try to be preserved without making all the dumb comments about these animals. For your information, once all the animals are gone you do know who is next, don't you>
Oh just get the turkey baster already.
The Panda never should have been forced to leave Tibet, end up in zoos and in front of prying eyes and cameras...Pandas should not be manhandled and being transported in crates and trucks. Pandas first and foremost need to be back where they came from and that is TIBET. Pandas are NOT Chinese nor show ponys but are animals with a high intelligence and posses, like all Tibetans, innate wisdom. Give the Panda their own country back, please. Tibet.
Most Wild Panda live in Si Chuan, not TIBET.
And they eat Bamboo roots, good luck finding Bamboo in TIBET mountain.
Pandas are NOT from Tibet; Pandas are from Sichuan Province in China, period. Check Wikipedia and everywhere else.
After China invaded Tibet in 1949, they divided the territories of Tibet into five parts, making original Tibet smaller and smaller. They cut the territories “Wolong / Wo-Dhom (from the Tibetan language, meaning ‘the place where Panda lives’)” into the “Sichuan” Province of China. China not only invaded their countries, but also invaded people’s minds. They tried to distort Tibetan history and the people’s national identification.
After the Panda became China’s property, they used the animals as their ‘political tool.’ Pandas were sent to many other countries to demonstrate Chinese “friendship.” The real purpose, however, is to cover-up their sins and the blood left on their hands from those they’ve invaded and killed, and those whose human rights and freedoms have been destroyed.
Well said Brigitte, the truth is the truth and these lies and propaganda from the rogue fascist state that is the peoples republic of china must be challenged and corrected.
WoLong means sleeping dragon. A famous Chinese strategist, Zhu GeLiang, in the three kingdoms era was nicknamed Mr. WoLong.
Do you also have Kangaroo in Tibet? Wow, panda in Tibet, you must be a genius!
An obviously ignorant PTA brainwashed ijiot. Bamboo in Tibet, Pandas not in China, LMAO! Hey Bridget, come over to my place- I have cuddly dinosaurs and we can swim in my shark tank. Don't worry, it's all humane- we feed them people.
Waste of resources. I need people for my Soylent Green Surprise.
With people like Brigitte, propaganda rules.... even if you won't vote for Ron Paul, there are a lot of things he said that make a lot of sense... one of them is non-intervention into other country's politics. Let China and Tibet solve their own problem. How do you feel if other countries tell us that Texas is supposed to be independent? They did fight the union and lost the war. Just like Tibet... yes, people got killed... people got tortured... but that's history. Let's look past history and work out a solution.
but just think how tasty a Panda burger would be if you could bbq one on the grill this weekend.
How the hell are they gonna make Kung Fu Panda 3 ???
lmao @ Doug! Ahhh very good question grasshopper! I say take them to a lab: in vitro fertilization and problem solved. But in all defense of the male panda, he is trying to avoid child support, who can blame him!
hahahaha, you are d funniest person alive..hahahaha
Worry about myself first, I'll worry about the panda's later... Maybe
It's amazing how many people are going "Eh...extinction is natural, why bother saving them?" Extinction due to destruction of habitat is NOT natural. Do you people honestly believe that the thousands of species that have died out due to pollution and shrinking habitat would have died off if humans weren't so hell-bent on destroying the world? Really? How about I come into your home, poison your water supply, and steal all your food, and then tell you that your slow death is all part of the circle of life. Let's watch you advocate for extinction then.
In most cases, I would agree, however, with Pandas it is different, they aren't simply disappearing due to their environment being destroyed ( at a very slow rate). Their population has been declining for a long time now steadily, and this is the reason why. They do not reproduce even when they're given all the opportunity to do it. Without human intervention, Pandas would very quickly be extinct, and not due to their forests dissapearing, but because they don't want to reproduce. We need to stop wasting money on a useless cause such as this one. Theiy're are other species that deserve to be saved and still try to reproduce, not to mentions billions of humans suffering.
Ah MarcXW, the ultimate armchair expert. Where exactly did you get your P.h.D in biology or zoology? Oh yeah, that's what I thought.
Actually, the poster is correct. The Giant Panda has been having a population decline since the Pleistocene. Even if humans were not impacting them, they are so specialized that they have difficulty adapting to other environmental changes.
Pandas are one of the poster children for conservation, which means they get a disproportionate amount of resources, resources that could be used on species that have a better chance of survival or who's decline is exclusively linked to man-made activity... in other words species we can actually help.
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But – people are natural, too.
..and since the Earth is just 6000 years old we are responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs as well..and we did not save not even one...also 90% of all species that ever lived are now gone..i guess we should take credit for it as well.
Humans are just a part of nature as everything else. All we do is 'natural'.
Can't they do some kind of artificial insemination, or is that illegal?
I loved Pandas! They are so cute! How do they do it?
Okay, be honest! How many of you clicked on the link just because it contained the word, "ѕех"?
I clicked because I thought it was a "how-to" guide for humans.
I clicked it because it said "panda." I love pandas...they're adorable.
Funny thing,you leave panda's alone in the wild and they don't have any problem procreating.
You don't know what you're talking about. And you didn't read the article.
The point is that yes, they do have the same problems in the wild.. it is one of the reasons they are endangered.
There are only two things that a species has to do to be viable: eat and reproduce. Pandas are terrible at both. Maybe its time we took a polaroid and moved on to saving something more interesting.
Agreed. They are a great animal to observe, but if they can't keep their species going on their own steam, we should get out of the way. The person using climate change as a reason for panda's decline needs to get a clue. If the author is referring to the popular theory that the earth is heating up, than the panda's primary habitats and food source (bamboo) is expanding. A more likely explanation for the decline would be the increased industrialization of China. Maybe the article can be rewritten in a few years when that becomes the primary excuse for global problems.
You DO realize that industrialization and climate change go hand-in-hand, right? Climate change and destruction of habitat are both to blame for pandas' impending extinction. They are perfectly capable of sustaining their species "on their own steam" so long as they have access to the basics...you know, food and water. We've taken that away. Therefore it is our responsibility to save them. Or do you not believe that humans should be held responsible for their actions?
I wish there were more pandas and less losers like Notdarwin and flashfiasco. Talk about useless
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Maybe the pandas are into the group thing – put a whole bunch of them together and stand back.
"Hey Sunshine. Hi Sweetie! Uh, can we get some privacy please? Nope, those ugly monkey things keep looking in on us. I'm definitely not in the mood. Hmm, you're not too cute yourself." Why don't they try IVF or surrogate panda moms?
Sure sounds like my wife...
I hear you, Dave. When I recall my ex as 300 pounds, vegan, eyes with dark circles, and yearly desire for intimacy, the article suddenly took on new meaning. She'd flip if I asked her genetic testing.
I'm suprised pandas are still alive, or even any animal in China for that matter. All the polution and chemical run off from all of those factories really cant be too good for any animal.
No worse than Britain from the mid to late 1800's, you should try to read Charles Dickens, the sky is described as being black.
Why do we know these things?
May be humans can learn some tactics to control human population.
So Cute!!! Now do the nasty!
This may be an unpopular sentiment – but if the pandas are having such issues reproducing, maybe its nature's way of pushing them out. Extinction has long been part of Earth's history.
My thoughts exactly. It sucks, but there is only so much you can do.
A species that cannot reproduce is doomed. Let's face it, if pandas weren't cute nobody would be spending a dime on preserving the species.
Did not want to say it, but exactly how I feel as well.
Pandas did not become endagered because of their reproduction dofficulties....it's because of humans poaching them and encroaching on their habitats. Their breeding problems only exacerbate the issue.
Pandas would not be going extinct if we hadn't destroyed their habitat. Death is natural, but if I shoot someone in the face it doesn't mean that it was that person's "natural" time to go. Extinction is only "natural" when it's naturally-occurring. The pandas' extinction is not even remotely natural. Please do a little bit of research before sounding off.
a little bit of research, like even reading the article, lol
i share your opinion 100% but then artificial insemination or other conceptions method might just do the magic!
You really have no idea what you are talking about. There can be many evolutionary advantages to having restricted breeding patterns. In their natural habitat in the wild, before people interfered, it wasn't a problem. Thanks for playing though.
Well, there were advantages a long time ago, but the Panda over specialized and adapted poorly. Even before humans started having an impact they were already in decline due to these issues. Humans have made the issue worse, but pandas were well on their way to extinction before we did anything to them, just like many of the megafauna that have died off over the last few 10k years.
Man, those pandas in the back yard have been going at it all night long. Time for the water hose....
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