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Kai Kai and Jia Jia have finally done the “deed”.
Mated, that is.
The 40-minute long panda courtship, however, proved unsuccessful, as the critically endangered bears are notoriously difficult to breed successfully.
The deed was a cause for jubilation for their caretakers at the River Safari.
"The latest development with Kai Kai and Jia Jia spells exciting times for panda researchers. They are the first pair of giant pandas to live so close to the equator, and we have shown that we can provide the right conditions to elicit mating behaviours," said Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Wildlife Reserves Singapore's (WRS) chief life sciences officer.
Jia Jia peering at Kai Kai | Photo: WRS
It was not clear how the pandas would react in an equatorial climate, as their mating instincts are brought on by "hormonal changes in response to seasonal variations", WRS said in a statement.
The River Safari's keepers and vets have employed a number of measures since last November to put them in an amorous mood.
These included varying the daylight hours and temperature in the panda exhibit to simulate the transition from winter to spring in the pandas' home in Sichuan, China, WRS said.
Panda mating sequence | Photo: WRS
After their first natural but unsuccessful mating session last Thursday (17 April), River Safari carried out artificial insemination to increase Jia Jia's chances of conceiving.
"Panda reproduction is a notoriously complex process, with females ovulating once a year, in which they are fertile for only 24 to 36 hours. Jia Jia's hormones started falling on Friday and we needed to move quickly to artificial insemination due to the short window when female pandas are able to conceive," said WRS' assistant director of veterinary services Dr Serena Oh.
The caretakers and vets will be monitoring her to determine if she is pregnant. The gestation period for a panda is typically five months.