One of zookeepers’ biggest problems is getting pandas to procreate?they just aren’t very sexy?or maybe they’re just extremely fussy about who they go out with. China wants to release giant pandas back into the wild, but can’t risk it until more of them are available. They’ve tried “panda porn”?explicit videos of pandas mating?as well as drugs ranging from traditional herbal remedies to Viagra. Now they think pandas may simply be waiting for the perfect partner, so they’ve opened a panda computer dating service, with computer software that analyzes the bloodlines of all pandas living in zoos to find the best match.
In the wild, female pandas usually give birth to a single cub only once every two to three years, which is an unusually low birth rate for animals. But in captivity, they lose all interest in sex and more than 60% of male pandas in zoos show no sexual desire at all.
This means that most panda births in captivity are the result of artificial insemination. The first artificially conceived cub was born in 1963, and since then, 210 have been born in China and 20 overseas. But only about half have survived to adulthood.
The number of pandas living in the wild has dropped by half in the last two decades. A survey in April found only about 1,000 in the mountains in the west of the country.
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