Giant pandas 'on top form' mated
'multiple times' in French zoo
A zoo in central France has announced that two of its giant pandas mated "multiple times". Huan Huan, a female, and Yuan Zi, a male, were put in contact eight times, at regular intervals, according to a press release from ZooParc de Beauval.

Giant pandas have a very short window for breeding. Females are only able to become pregnant for 24 to 72 hours each year.

In April 2020, two pandas at a zoo in Hong Kong finally mated after 10 years of attempts, underlining the importance of each mating session.

ZooParc de Beauval hailed its pandas' performance over the weekend. "Huan Huan was at the top of her hormonal spike and Yuan Zi... was obviously on top form!". "The two (bears) obviously had some rest periods during these vital hours... but they obviously weren't very tired." Yuan Zi was "more at ease" during the act than in years past, according to the release, which noted that the pair were "cooperative and rather active" during their repeated encounters.

"Our male has made progress compared to last year," said Baptiste Mulot, head veterinarian at Beauval. "He has a better idea of what to do."

While there is no guarantee that Huan Huan will in fact become pregnant, the zoo said the mating session was "rather good," noting "many high pitched noises" from Huan Huan and "more hoarse growling" from Yuan Zi.

The zoo has taken delivery of special bamboo shoots from China to ensure than Huan Huan gets all the nutrients she needs, as bamboo is out of season in France.
Both pandas are 12 years old and have been in the French zoo since 2012.
Huan Huan could become a mother for the second time, after giving birth to a male cub named Yuan Meng -- the first giant panda to be born in France -- 3.5 years ago.

The gestation period for giant pandas ranges between 72 and 324 days.

Two Male Pandas Caught in
Old-Fashioned Battle to Woo Mate
Foping is the most popular area for giant pandas dwelling in the Qinling Mountains in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

Since earlier this month, rangers in the park have accidentally run into four duels between male pandas fighting for the attention of females, but this is the first time the fight was captured on camera.

In the footage, as two male pandas fought, three female pandas stayed high on branches nearby, positioning themselves on the front row, poking their heads out of the leaves and seemed to be enjoying this display of "manhood." 

Locked in fierce struggle, the two eventually rolled down the hill and vanished into a thick grove. 

For the pandas, the incident might be a life-changing one. But in the long run, this might also be the case for the entire panda race. 

With the two pandas disappearing from the site, the rangers did not make out a winner. Yet, however heated the battle may be, the prize will only be a one-season stand as giant pandas are solitary creatures who only seek a companion during the mating season from March to May.

Wild Panda Searches for Mate in Nature Park
A wild panda was spotted crossing the road 1 km away from the Giant Panda Nature Park's core reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province on March 18.

"We have recorded panda feces in this place before. Recently, the giant panda began its estrus period, so its activity range is relatively wide. It may pass through our place to find its mate," said Wu Zhipu, a staff member of Tianquan Station in the nature park.

For most of the year, giant pandas stay within a small radius to eat and sleep. But in March and April during their estrus period, they move to new areas to find mates.
#PandaStory: Exploring New Sites

As we head into spring, giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji is getting the hang of the daily routine at the Panda House. He turns 7 months old on Sunday and recently reached another milestone: on March 18, he tipped the scales at 32 pounds (14.57 kilograms)!

Over the past couple of weeks, he has been exploring more of his outdoor habitat. When the weather is nice and relatively warm, we give the giant pandas access to their yards around 7:30 a.m. Most mornings, Xiao Qi Ji is not far behind his mother, Mei Xiang, when she enters the yard. Unlike his parents, however, on some days he needs a bit of coaxing from keepers to go outside.

As mom walks around looking for bamboo, enrichment and other treats scattered by keepers, Xiao Qi Ji accompanies her. Last Friday, March 12, Mei Xiang took him on a tour of the moat—the area filled with greenery at the front of their habitat.  

That excursion seemed to boost Xiao Qi Ji’s confidence! Now, he explores other areas of the yard daily—even on his own. On Tuesday, March 18, he thoroughly investigated the climbing structure beneath the hammock. Xiao Qi Ji also figured out how to use the logs as a pathway and followed them to the top of the grotto.  

On a typical morning, Xiao Qi Ji spends about an hour and a half playing. All that activity tuckers him out, and our sleepy cub eventually settles in for his morning nap around 9 or 9:30 a.m. If you are trying to catch a glimpse of Xiao Qi Ji while he is active and awake, the best time to tune in to the Giant Panda Cam is between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m.

Pandas at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo mate
for first time in four years
Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo said it has confirmed that its male panda, Ri Ri, and his female partner, Shin Shin, mated for the first time since February 2017.

Ri Ri began to show signs of being in heat in November last year, while similar signs were seen for Shin Shin from late last month.

The pandas were put in the same enclosure Saturday after showing strong signs of being in heat, such as calling to each other many times, during their meeting over a fence. Their mating lasted 65 seconds, the zoo said.

The zoo will study their behavior in an effort to best time the next attempt. Staff will also monitor Shin Shin to see if she becomes pregnant.

Following the previous mating, Shin Shin gave birth to Xiang Xiang in June 2017.
“We hope breeding will be successful this time again,” a zoo official said.

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