Photo by PoPville flickr user Jacques Arsenault
From the National Zoo:
“After carefully monitoring the behavior of both its giant pandas and female Mei Xiang’s hormones for weeks, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s team of reproductive scientists, veterinarians and panda keepers performed two artificial inseminations within the last 24 hours. The first procedure started at 6 p.m. on April 26, and the second began at 7:30 this morning, April 27. Daily hormone reports showed Mei Xiang’s progesterone levels peaked Sunday morning, an indication that she was in estrus and able to become pregnant.
For the first time this year, scientists used semen collected from a giant panda living at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, China. The chosen male panda, Hui Hui (pronounced “h-WEI h-WEI”), was determined to be one of the best genetic matches for Mei Xiang.
Although the Zoo’s male panda Tian Tian is not as genetically valuable as Mei Xiang, he is still important to the panda population. Scientists also used high-quality fresh semen collected from Tian Tian for the artificial inseminations. The first procedure used a combination of sperm from Hui Hui and Tian Tian. The second procedure also used thawed sperm from Hui Hui and sperm refrigerated overnight from Tian Tian. If Mei Xiang gives birth, scientists will use a DNA test to determine which male sired the cub. Mei Xiang was put under general anesthesia for the non-surgical artificial insemination(s). Each procedure took about an hour. The Zoo live-streamed portions of the first procedure on Twitter using Perioscope and live-posted to Instagram using #PandaStory. (more…)