Rhenen zoo ecstatic: Pandas mated for the first time

Pandas Wu Wen and Xing Ya mated for the first time at Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, 18 January 2020
Pandas Wu Wen and Xing Ya mated for the first time at Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, 18 January 2020Ouwehands Dierenpark RhenenFacebook

Exciting news from the Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen - after years of preparations, their pandas Xing Ya and Wu Wen mated for the first time on Saturday. In the coming months, Wu Wen's urine will be monitored daily to find out if she is pregnant, the zoo said on Tuesday.

This mating was the work of years of preparations. Among other things, the pandas' urine were spread in each others' enclosures so they could get used to each others' smells, recordings of giant panda males in the mating season were played for Xing Ya, and he was trained to stand on his hind legs "so that he would be able to perform the deed", the zoo said. 

The reproduction of the giant panda is complex for various reasons, one of which is the short fertility period of the female. Over the past weeks, Wu Wen's hormone levels were checked through her urine almost daily, to determine whether she was in her fertility period. At the end of last week, Wu Wen's hormone levels showed that she was ready. 

"From this moment on, the caretakers were present day and night to guide the giant pandas and bring them together in a special enclosure," the zoo said. The caretakers had intensive contact with experts from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. And on Saturday the deed was done.

"The hormones in Wu Wen's urine will continue to be monitored daily and will have to show whether it was a successful mating," the zoo said. The zoo hopes that it was and that it will result in healthy panda babies, "to make a nice contribution to the mating program". 

The giant panda is an endangered species that can only be found in the wild in China. According to the last count, there are 1,864 giant pandas still living in the wild. Breeding these animals is important to keep the population genetically and demographically healthy.