Singapore panda’s have a go at mating


Kai Kai and Jia Jia the giant pandas from River Safari in Singapore have finished their first mating season. They were brought together for a 40 minute session which was unsuccessful but vets also artificially inseminated Jia Jia and are waiting to see if this is a success.

While the young bears were old enough to breed last year keepers did not make any attempts to breed them as they showed no signs of being ready. Keepers used the right changes to temperature and light levels to spur breeding. As this is the first time pandas have lived so close to the equator researchers have had to work to get this right.


Keepers started working in November to trigger the breeding cycle which involved changing temperature and daylight hours.

The changes worked with 7 year old Kai Kai showing an increase in bleating and scent-marking. By the 5th of April Jia Jia was beginning to show her first signs of estrous. Her genitals had swollen, she was restless and her hormone levels had changed. The pair began to call out to each other and look at each other through a closed gate that links the two habitats.


Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, explained: “The latest development with Kai Kai & Jia Jia spells exciting times for panda researchers. They are the first pair of giant pandas to live so close to the equator, and we have shown that we can provide the right conditions to elicit mating behaviours. Maintaining a sustainable population of these critically endangered animals under human care is a crucial part of their conservation plan.”

On April 17 the pair were ready to come together for their first natural mating attempt. This 40 minute session was deemed unsuccessful by keepers. Many first time panda couples do not succeed when they mate due to a lack of knowledge. It was decided that artificial insemination would be used to help Jia Jia’s chance of conceiving.


Assistant director of Veterinary Sciences for Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Dr. Serena Oh said, “Panda reproduction is a notoriously complex process, with females ovulating once a year, in which they are fertile for only 24 to 36 hours. Jia Jia’s hormones started falling on Friday and we needed to move quickly to artificial insemination due to the short window when female pandas are able to conceive.”

Kia Kia was brought to the vet centre where vets were able to collect a semen sample. This was then used to inseminate Jia Jia.


“In the next few months, we will continue to monitor Jia Jia’s hormone levels and conduct ultrasounds to determine if she is pregnant. We will wait and hope for the best,” added Dr. Oh.

It takes five months for one or two panda cubs to be born.


Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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