Zoo Atlanta to begin mating pandas again after weaning cub - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Zoo Atlanta to begin mating pandas again after weaning cub

ATLANTA (AP) - Zoo Atlanta is hoping to hear the pitter patter of little panda paws again.

Now that giant panda cub Mei Lan is old enough to be weaned from her mother, Lun Lun, zookeepers hope the mother is ready to mate. If all goes as planned, Lun Lun will become pregnant this spring and deliver Zoo Atlanta's second giant panda cub at the end of the summer.

But that's a big "if."

Panda pregnancy is fraught with uncertainty. Most panda mothers ovulate about six weeks after their cubs wean. The curator of carnivores at Zoo Atlanta, Rebecca Snyder, says there's no guarantee that Lun Lun's body will cooperate.

Lun Lun and her partner, Yang Yang, don't have a history of successful mating. Snyder said like humans, inexperienced pandas often don't know what to do when it comes to babymaking.

Snyder said "We'll do the same the same thing we've done: We give them the opportunity to breed." But they're also prepared to do artificial insemination. That's how Mei Lan was conceived in 2006.

Zoo officials won't know if Lun Lun actually is pregnant until a couple of weeks before she gives birth. Even then, there's no guarantee an ultrasound would show the tiny fetus. Mei Lan weighed just 4 ounces and was about the size of a stick of butter at birth.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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