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No sex, please, we’re giant pandas

Giant pandas show little interest in sex behind bars but China nevertheless is looking forward to a baby boom this year with 10 females already pregnant and 23 on heat.
BEIJING ZOO EXPERTS ARTIFICIALLY INSEMINATE GIANT PANDA
Beijing Zoo experts and staffs artificially inseminate a giant panda named "Jini" in China's capital, March 20.China Photos / Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

Giant pandas show little interest in sex behind bars but China nevertheless is looking forward to a baby boom this year with 10 females already pregnant and 23 on heat.

“China expects a record number of baby giant pandas to be born this year,” Xinhua news agency said of the animals kept at two breeding and research centers in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

In 2003, 19 baby pandas were born by natural or artificial insemination in China’s breeding bases and 16 of them survived.

“The survival rate of panda cubs has risen from 30 percent several decades ago to nearly 90 percent now as a result of modern methods to promote mating and feeding,” Xinhua said.

But it admitted it was hard to tickle their interest in sex and the pregnancies had little to do with spring in the air.

Forestry authority statistics show fewer than 10 percent of male giant pandas mate naturally and fewer than 30 percent of females conceive naturally.

“Giant pandas show little instinctive behavior in captivity, especially sexual desire, essential for natural mating and conception,” Xinhua said.

Experts estimate that 1,000 giant pandas, one of the world’s most endangered species, live in the foggy mountains around the Sichuan Basin, while about 140 live in captivity around the world.