Get a room! River Safari pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia preparing to mate

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SINGAPORE – Visitors to River Safari hoping to see giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia might be disappointed if the two decide that it’s time to make baby pandas.

The black and white duo have been seen exhibiting ‘public displays of affection’ and if they are deemed ready to mate, they will be ‘getting a room’ – the pair will be taken out of their Giant Panda Forest exhibits for three days to allow privacy for natural mating in their den.

According to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), park guests visiting now may witness some intriguing courtship behaviour from the pandas, which may include bleating, scent-marking, as well as restlessness.

Male panda Kai Kai may also display the flehmen response, a behaviour whereby an animal curls back its upper lip to sniff for pheromones, or behaviour-altering agents, to assess the breeding readiness of its mate.

Kai Kai, 9, and Jia Jia, 8, attempted to start a family last April but did not manage to conceive through natural mating or artificial insemination.

As the endangered bears have a notoriously complex reproduction process, River Safari’s team of vets and keepers are carefully monitoring the pandas as they gear up for a second shot at making a baby.

To get the pandas in the mood for love, Kai Kai and Jia Jia swapped exhibits and dens in January and February to stimulate their mating instincts by smelling each other’s scent.

WRS also revealed that Kai Kai has also been dutifully doing “sexercise” in his den for months so as to strengthen his hind legs and improve his stamina.

In case Jia Jia does not get pregnant, vets have collected Kai Kai’s semen for artificial insemination to increase the chances of breeding.

WRS’ chief life sciences officer Dr Cheng Wen-Haur said: “We have learnt much about the care of this endangered species and their breeding behaviour in the last few years, and the team is ready to apply this knowledge and hope for a Singapore baby panda this year.”

Perhaps some panda porn might help now.

minlee@sph.com.sg

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016 – 15:52
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