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National Zoo Panda Breeding Season Begins

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NATIONAL ZOO PANDA
In this Oct. 11, 2012 file photo, Mei Xiang, a giant female panda, rests at the National Zoo in Washington. The National Zoo says breeding season has arrived for the giant pandas after a cub was born last year but died six days later. The zoo said Wednesday that female panda Mei Xiang and male panda Tian Tian are showing signs they are ready to breed. Also, Mei Xiang's hormones have been rising. | AP
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WASHINGTON -- The National Zoo says breeding season has arrived for the giant pandas after a cub was born last year but died six days later.

The zoo said Wednesday that female panda Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and male panda Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) are showing signs they are ready to breed. Also, Mei Xiang's hormones have been rising.

Zoo officials say the pandas will have an opportunity to mate naturally. If they're not successful, a team of scientists is standing by, ready to perform an artificial insemination in the coming days.

The panda house is closed during the breeding period. But visitors may see the pandas in their yards.

Mei Xiang delivered a cub in September. But the tiny female died due to liver trouble and signs of lung disease.

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