A pair of pandas in the mood for mating were being given a bit of space on Thursday, with Japanese zookeepers hoping they would have more success if the public was kept away.
Female panda Shin Shin has begun to behave in a way indicating she is receptive to male advances, say officials at Ueno Zoo in the Japanese capital, who add they want her and her beau Ri Ri to have privacy to procreate in peace.
“We have seen Shin Shin showing signs that she is in heat, so we have suspended public viewing and are getting ready to put her and Ri Ri together,” said zoo official Mikako Kaneko.
“As female pandas are able to conceive for just a few days during a year, we are now carefully watching them so that we won’t let the chance slip away,” she added.
Shin Shin’s provocative panda behaviour has included walking more frequently than usual and making noises, the zoo said.
The sounds are “love calls”, a kind of squeaking that means mating season is at hand, the zoo said.
Last year, Shin Shin and Ri Ri mated in late March, with the cub born in July — the first giant panda cub at the zoo in 24 years.
However, it died of pneumonia about a week later, with the news stopping regular television programming and bringing the zoo director to tears.