Panda Lovin' Leaves DC Zoo Wanting

Bears fail again at 'competent mating'; keepers help out
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 19, 2009 8:40 AM CST

(Newser) – A romantic day in the park amid inaugural hubbub wasn’t enough to propagate the genes of two famous pandas at Washington’s National Zoo, the Washington Post reports. The pair had given mating calls, prompting hopes for the conception of a new member of the endangered species, which is apparently horrible at the reproduction game.  But after spending a day trying to mate, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang had no luck—so veterinarians artificially inseminated Mei Xiang.

The operation is still no guarantee of a newborn: of several attempts at inseminating Mei Xiang throughout the decade, only one, in 2005, has been successful—however, it brought baby Tai Shan, a major tourist attraction. It won’t be clear if Mei Xiang is pregnant for up to 185 days, scientists say. She ovulated months earlier than usual this year in an exciting time for Washington—though her political leanings remain unclear.