They closely monitored her hormone levels, watched her behavior to make sure the time was right and set up a quiet night with a mate.
But it didn’t do the trick. So on Saturday, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo performed an artificial insemination on giant panda Mei Xiang.
There is only a short window of opportunity for a giant panda to breed, so scientists at the National Zoo have been trying to make the most of it. When putting Mei Xiang and male Tian Tian together overnight didn’t result in breeding, the scientists decided to inseminate Mei Xiang with sperm collected from Tian Tian.
Last year, Mei Xiang gave birth to a female cub that lived only about a week.
Both giant pandas are at the zoo under a research and breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Assn. They are among about 300 pandas who live in zoos and breeding centers around the world. Only about 1,600 giant pandas remain in the wild.