No baby panda for Jia Jia this year

No baby panda for Jia Jia this year
PHOTO: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

SINGAPORE - Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) has confirmed that River Safari's female panda, Jia Jia, will not be delivering a cub this year.

Her caretakers concluded that the seven-year-old panda is not pregnant based on scientific data gathered from her behaviour and hormone levels. The birthing window has now passed, WRS said in a press statement today (Sept 23).

On April 18, Jia Jia underwent artificial insemination after an unsuccessful mating attempt with male panda, Kai Kai.

She first exhibited signs consistent with pregnancy, or pseudo-pregnancy, such as eating less bamboo, sleeping more and increasing hormone levels, but the results could only be confirmed at a later stage.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer of WRS, said: "Our team of vets and keepers were cautiously optimistic in welcoming a baby panda and while we cannot expect one this year, we are pleased and encouraged by the development of Kai Kai and Jia Jia."

He added that the past months have provided an invaluable learning experience in understanding the complex reproduction and biology of pandas and they hope for better results next year.

Panda caretakers will review information and data collected in the last few months before the next breeding season for the bears begin around April, said WRS.

To get the pandas accustomed to physical contact with each other, WRS said its keepers aim to bring the pandas together before the start of the mating season.

Caretakers will also continue to vary daylight hours and temperature in the Giant Panda Forest - a technique which successfully triggered the breeding cycles of the pandas in April this year.

Pandas' mating instincts are brought on by hormonal changes in response to seasonal variations such as temperature changes and increasing day length from winter to spring.

To simulate this seasonal transition, the pandas will return to their dens earlier between October to March, and later between April to September.

wjeanne@sph.com.sg

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