The Smithsonian's National Zoo has been part of an international effort to breed highly endangered giant pandas in captivity ever since Richard Nixon visited China in 1972. But in 43 years, they have had only two solid successes — cubs Tai Shan and Bao Bao. They hope the new twins born this weekend will make it four.
Picture: Ketzirah Lesser and Art Drauglis via Flickr
The National Zoo has plenty of experience getting other species to get it on and make babies: Over the past two years they have had baby lions, crocodiles, Andean Bears, gazelles, giraffes, even small-and-adorable red pandas. Why are the giant pandas such notoriously picky breeders?
In an article at Motherboard, Kaleigh Rogers outlines the major problems conservationists face when breeding giant pandas, including limited opportunity (females only ovulate once a year), clumsy mates, and biological quirks that make it hard to tell whether a panda is even pregnant. It explains exactly why the zoo is so excited about Mei Xiang's new twin cubs.