ATLANTA – Zoo Atlanta officials confirmed today that Lun Lun, a 12-year-old female giant panda, was artificially inseminated on June 13, 2010.
The veterinary and animal management teams opted to employ artificial insemination (AI) after the world-famous panda 12-year-old Yang Yang, failed to mate during Lun Lun's critically brief window of fertility.
Time is of the essence in captive breeding of giant pandas, which are fertile for just two to three days a year.
Animal management teams monitored Lun Lun's behavior for signs that her estrous cycle was approaching.
Hormone analyses to pinpoint ovulation were also conducted by Dr. Dave Kersey, an expert in giant panda endocrinology from Western University of Health Sciences with the assistance of Mary Karom from Georgia State University's Neuroscience Institute.
When behavioral and hormonal indicators suggested that ovulation had occurred, Lun Lun and Yang Yang were given the opportunity to mate.
When a mating did not occur, Dr. Liu, a reproductive physiologist from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Dr. Aitken Palmer, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida and the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team performed two AI procedures on Lun Lun using semen from Yang Yang.
Over the next few months, staff will continue to monitor Lun Lun's hormones and behavior for signs of a possible pregnancy.
"While we were hopeful for breeding between Lun Lun and Yang Yang after all these years, we are optimistic that AI will once again prove successful in 2010," said Dr. Dwight Lawson, Senior Vice President of Collections, Education and Conservation. "The collaborative efforts of many dedicated specialists reflect a shared commitment to preserving this iconic and endangered species."
The use of AI has proven successful in the births of Lun Lun's and Yang Yang's two previous offspring, Mei Lan, born in September 2006 and now a resident of Chengdu, China, and Xi Lan, born in August 2008. Now almost 2 years old and weighing nearly 100 pounds, the precocious Xi Lan remains one of the Zoo's most popular animals. Giant panda fans can look forward to birthday celebrations for Xi Lan and his parents later this summer.
For more information, call 404.624.WILD or visit zooatlanta.org.