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Giant pandas ‘on top form’ mated ‘multiple times’ in French zoo

A zoo in central France has announced that two of its giant pandas mated “multiple times” on Saturday.

Huan Huan, a female, and Yuan Zi, a male, were put in contact eight times, at regular intervals, according to a press release from ZooParc de Beauval, published Sunday.

Giant pandas have a very short window for breeding. Females are only able to become pregnant for 24 to 72 hours each year.

In April 2020, two pandas at a zoo in Hong Kong finally mated after 10 years of attempts, underlining the importance of each mating session.

ZooParc de Beauval hailed its pandas’ performance over the weekend.

“Huan Huan was at the top of her hormonal spike and Yuan Zi… was obviously on top form!” reads the release.

“The two (bears) obviously had some rest periods during these vital hours… but they obviously weren’t very tired.”

Yuan Zi was “more at ease” during the act than in years past, according to the release, which noted that the pair were “cooperative and rather active” during their repeated encounters.

“Our male has made progress compared to last year,” said Baptiste Mulot, head veterinarian at Beauval. “He has a better idea of what to do.”

While there is no guarantee that Huan Huan will in fact become pregnant, the zoo said the mating session was “rather good,” noting “many high pitched noises” from Huan Huan and “more hoarse growling” from Yuan Zi.

Vets also artificially inseminated Huan Huan to improve the chances of her getting pregnant, the zoo said, and the team will have a better idea of whether the mating session was a success in around 15 days.

The zoo has taken delivery of special bamboo shoots from China to ensure than Huan Huan gets all the nutrients she needs, as bamboo is out of season in France.

Both pandas are 12 years old and have been in the French zoo since 2012.

Huan Huan could become a mother for the second time, after giving birth to a male cub named Yuan Meng — the first giant panda to be born in France — 3.5 years ago.

The gestation period for giant pandas ranges between 72 and 324 days.

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