Researchers Urge Pandas On

Currently, it’s mating time at the zoo. Female and male only mate for two or three days every year and scientists at the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding are trying to make sure the perform their biological imperative – by showing them porn. The BBC visited the center during mating season for a closer look.

Scientists here have to make the most of this brief mating season. There are only around 2,000 pandas left in the world – including about 250 in captivity.

So the trick for everyone here at the Chengdu reserve is to get their pandas together on the right days, and then nudge them along a bit by playing them the video of Qing Qing and Ha Lei.

No one here can remember who came up with the idea – it was possibly a behaviour specialist from abroad, they say.

And there is one problem – no one is sure whether or not the mating tapes make any difference.

In 2006 there was a brief panda boom with 28 babies surviving through a combination of natural breeding and artificial insemination, half or which were born at the Chengdu Research base.

Zhang Zhihe, director of the center, attributed the increasing rise in births to a better understanding of panda biology, genetics and behavior. Things like panda porn can help nature take its course, he said.

February 19, 2008 7:30 PM
Categories: Culture & the Arts