04/10/2013 09:13 am ET Updated Apr 10, 2013

National Zoo Panda Pregnancy Watch: Paternity Test Needed If Mei Xiang Gives Birth To Cub


WASHINGTON -- If National Zoo giant panda Mei Xiang gets pregnant and gives birth to a cub this year, the zoo will run a paternity analysis to determine which of two male giant pandas is the father.

A Chinese veterinarian performed artificial insemination twice on 14-year-old Mei Xiang on March 30. For the first producedure, semen from the National Zoo's male panda Tian Tian was used; for the second, a mix of semen from Tian Tian and Gao Gao of the San Diego Zoo was used.

The National Zoo tweeted the insemination process using the hashtag #PandaAI.

Washingtonians will have to wait several months to find out whether the insemination took and Mei Xiang is pregnant. A panda pregnancy lasts 95 to 160 days.

Last year, Mei Xiang unexpectedly gave birth to a female cub who died after six days due to liver and lung problems. Her only other surviving cub, Tai Shan, was born at National Zoo in 2005 and relocated to China in 2010.


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