Home>> Giant Pandas>>Giant Panda's Reproduction

Giant Panda's Reproduction

Giant Panda Cub

Giant Panda Kindergarten              Bookmark and Share

Giant Panda's Mating

Initially the primary method of breeding Giant Pandas in captivity was by artificial insemination, as they seemed to lose their interest in mating once they were captured.This led some scientists to try extreme methods such as showing them videos of giant Pandas mating and giving the males Viagra.Only recently have researchers started having success with captive breeding programs, and they have now determined that Giant Pandas have comparable breeding to some populations of the American Black Bear, a thriving bear family. The current reproductive rate is considered one young every two years.

Giant Pandas reach sexual maturity between the ages of four and eight, and may be reproductive until age 20. The mating season is between March and May, when a female goes into her estrous cycle which lasts for two or three days and only occurs once a year. When mating, the female is in a crouching, head-down position as the male mounts her from behind. Copulation time is short, ranging from thirty seconds to five minutes, but the male may mount her repeatedly to ensure successful fertilization. The gestation period ranges from 95 to 160 days.Cubs weigh only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces), which is about 1/900 of the mother's weight.

According to a fact sheet from Pandas International: if twins are born, usually only one survives in the wild. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. It is thought that the mother cannot produce enough milk for two cubs since she does not store fat. The father has no part in helping raise the cub.

How are baby pandas born?

When the cub is first born, it is pink, furless, and blind. A Giant Panda cub is also extremely small, and it is difficult for the mother to protect it because of the baby's size. It nurses from its mother's breast 6 to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother's saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. A cub's fur is very soft and coarsens with age. The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 90 days; mothers play with their cubs by rolling and wrestling with them. The cubs are able to eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant Panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.

Artificial Insemination for Giant Panda

In July 2009, Chinese scientists confirmed the birth of the first cub to be successfully conceived through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.The cub was born at 07:41 on 23 July that year in Sichuan as the third child of You You, an 11-year-old.The technique for freezing the sperm in liquid nitrogen was first developed in 1980 and the first birth was hailed as a solution to the problem of lessening Giant Panda semen availability which had led to in-breeding.It has been suggested that panda semen, which can be frozen for decades, could be shared between different zoos to save the species.It is expected that zoos in destinations such as San Diego in the United States and Mexico City will now be able to provide their own semen to inseminate more Giant Pandas.