Taipei zoo hopes for baby panda in May

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–Panda lovers in Taiwan may have a chance to welcome a baby panda at the Taipei City Zoo this year in the Chinese Year of Dragon, zoo authorities announced yesterday. Experts predict that the pair of giant pandas, male Tuan Tuan (團團) and his female companion Yuan Yuan (圓圓) are about to enter the fertile period next month. If everything goes well, the couple could be expecting a panda cub in May the soonest, the zoo said. The zoo authorities are currently closely monitoring the pair of pandas that are some of the favorite animals at the zoo in Taipei. Top Chinese panda experts may fly to Taiwan to offer assistance when needed to help them conceive.

In the hope of raising the chances for them to conceive, experts at the Taipei Zoo have been strengthening muscles of Tuan Tuan’s hind legs for the past months.

The zoo will make arrangements to help the two pandas engage in a natural mating process at the panda house, experts at the zoo said. On the other hand, artificial insemination will remain an option in the future in order to bring new baby cubs into the world as early as possible, they noted. The zoo originally had high hopes of welcoming a baby panda last year after experts at the zoo artificially inseminated Yuan Yuan in the hopes of having baby cubs before the end of 2011, but Yuan Yuan failed to get pregnant during the previous attempt. According to experts, female pandas have only several days a year in which they can conceive. Some males never succeed at natural breeding, so artificial insemination has become common practice when breeding pandas living in captivity The pair of 7-year-old pandas were given to the zoo by China in 2008 to signify improved relations with Taiwan.

The news came amid a time when Taiwan is celebrating the beginning of the Year of the Dragon in the Lunar calendar. The Chinese Dragon years typically see more births in Taiwan than other years in the 12-zodiac cycle since the auspicious and lucky sign is closely associated with the emperor and prosperity.