November 9, 2009

Separating Two Pandas Will Hopefully Create A Third

Spending a little time apart seems to have reawakened the affections of a male and female panda that will hopefully lead to a new baby.

This is the advice a panda expert sent by China to Taiwan gave to persuade the mating of two pandas given by Beijing to represent the two countries' increasing friendship.

After examining the pandas at the Taipei Zoo on Sunday, Chinese expert Zhang Hemin recommended separating the pandas for a month or two to increase the amorous feeling required for reproduction.

"They may have more interest toward each other after a brief separation," said Zhang, a researcher at the Wolong Natural Reserve.

China gave Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, which when combined mean "reunion," to Taiwan in December in the middle of increasing friendship between the two countries, which where divided in the civil war in 1949.

Zhang says that although the surroundings at the Taipei Zoo are satisfactory and would not harm breeding, the animals may have become too comfortable with each other.

Zhang also recommended that the zookeepers should give the male panda more wooden racks so he can climb and toughen his hind legs, needed to mate successfully.

Pandas are burdened with an extremely low reproduction rate. Females generally only have a cub once every few years, experts note.

There are only 1,600 pandas alive in the wild, generally in China's Sichuan region. 120 pandas are in Chinese breeding facilities and zoos, and only 20 live in zoos outside of Asia.