The panda experts at Taipei Zoo yesterday decided to collect sperm from a male giant panda for future artificial insemination after it was found to be lacking sex drive, even though its female counterpart had been showing signs of being ready to conceive.
According to Taipei Zoo director Jason Yeh, the zoo has decided to close the panda enclosure for four days starting yesterday, in the hopes that the pair will make use of the uninterrupted environment to procreate.
The female panda Yuan Yuan had been showing obvious signs that she is ready to conceive, however, her mate Tuan Tuan did not appear as passionate, as the male panda, which has no experience mating, was interested only in feeding and sleeping, Yeh added.
With no immediate signs that the two were ready to mate, the zoo authorities later decided to anesthetize Tuan Tuan to collect his sperm for later artificial insemination in case the two fail to mate, Yeh went on.
The whole sperm-extracting process took about an hour and a later test showed that the male panda's sperm was in good quality and could impregnate the female, he added. The sperm has now been put in a freezer for later use.
The decision was made based on the suggestion of a visiting Chinese expert from Sichuan province, said Yeh. The Chinese expert also noted that female pandas have only several days a year in which they can conceive. Some males never succeed at natural breeding, so artificial insemination has become common practice when breeding pandas living in captivity.
The artificial insemination will be held no later than the end of this week, if necessary, Yeh said, adding that if everything goes well, his zoo will be expecting a baby panda around August this year.
The two pandas were given to the zoo by China in 2008 to signify improved relations with Taiwan.
-- The China Post/Asia News Network