photograph of a giant panda

Source: CNN
Date: 16 March 2004

Vets give panda crash course in sex ed

BEIJING, China (AP) -- Chinese veterinarians have begun showing American-born panda Hua Mei sex-education videos featuring pandas mating to prepare her for "blind dates" with Chinese suitors, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

The 4-year-old animal, whose name means "China-America," arrived in China from San Diego in February. Now that her month of quarantine is complete, officials are hoping she will quickly mate with a panda at her new home, the Wolong Giant Panda Protection Research Center in southwestern China.

"We hope she can get pregnant by the end of March. But first of all, she should have some sexual education," said Wei Rongping, assistant director of the research center, quoted by Xinhua.

Because Hua Mei has been in captivity since she was born, she has not had the chance to observe the natural course of panda reproduction in the wild. So officials have shown her videos of mating pandas and taken her to see other pandas copulating, according to the report.

The report said that similar sex education courses given to other pandas in the center had resulted in natural matings.

Hua Mei has been assigned four prospective mates, including 15-year-old Zhuang Zhuang, 11-year-old Xi Meng, 12-year-old Da Di and 10-year-old Di Di, the report said.

"I do not know which of them will be lucky enough to mate our princess," Wei said. "It's all up to Hua Mei to find her own Mr. Right."

Hua Mei was born in 1999 to two giant pandas on loan from China at the San Diego Zoo.

The offspring of all pandas lent overseas are considered Chinese property and must be returned to China by age 3. But Hua Mei's trip was delayed for more than a year by the SARS outbreak and other complications.


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