Earlier this week, the Smithsonian National Zoo live-tweeted their most recent attempt to knock up a giant panda. You can read the whole thing at Storify. And, seriously people, you should read it. I originally intended to just post a short link to this, almost as a joke, but it turns out that the process of inseminating a giant panda is actually really interesting.
Besides the photos, which are great, and the revelation that it takes 15-20 people to properly oversee the process (insert obvious jokes here), the Storify contains a lot of neat behind-the-scenes details about what it's like to perform a medical procedure on a large animal. You'll also learn a thing or two about the panda reproductive process.
Fun fact: Female pandas are only fertile for about 24-72 hours, once a year. Miss that window, and you get no baby pandas. Of course, hitting the window doesn't mean you will get baby pandas. Pregnancy doesn't just happen when you put sperm in the right place at the right time. For instance, the average female human has, on her most fertile day of the month,a 9% chance of getting pregnant. (For the record, I knew the chances were surprisingly low, but even then I was surprised to learn just how low.)
The National Zoo has inseminated Mei Xang the panda for eight years in a row. Without success.
Given that, the famously low birth rate among giant pandas starts to make more sense. Especially when you consider the fact that captive males don't seem to know, instinctively, how to have sex—and without other males around to show them, they often just don't do it at all, or fail to do it correctly.
Read the Storify of Mei Xang's insemination
Read an Animal Planet story on the complications of panda reproduction
Via Wendee Holtcamp
Image: Yes, those are tubes of frozen panda sperm. Photo courtesy the Smithsonian National Zoo Twitter account.
I can’t believe I have to write this, but maybe jamming other people’s shit up your ass isn’t a great idea. When done by medical professions, under very specific circumstances, a fecal transplant can mean the difference between life and death: implanting feces containing healthy gut microbiome into a patient’s body has been used by […]
Good news! This week, folks living in as far north as Michigan may get treated to a stunning light show as Auroras will be shining brighter and further away from the planet’s axis than usual. What a rare treat! The bad news: the same phenomenon that causes the Northern Lights to do their thing could […]
In 1990, once NASA’s twin Voyager probes had completed their grand tour of the solar system, it came time to shut off their cameras to preserve power and memory for the other scientific instruments onboard. But before that happened, there was one last photo opportunity not to be missed. Carl Sagan, a member of the […]
Trains may not be the most popular means of conveyance nowadays, but chances are you grew up playing with toy trains or building a model set to wrap around the Christmas tree. In either case, it’s safe to say that locomotives have long carried a unique sense of awe and scale, especially when they’re hundreds […]
When it comes to redesigning or renovating a living space, envisioning changes before they occur can be tricky for most. Thankfully, the web is home to tools that can remove some of the guesswork, like Live Home 3D Pro for Mac. This app lets you create detailed and furnished floor plans for everything from sheds and […]
For many startups and fledgling businesses, web hosting — and the fees associated with it — can take a sizeable chunk out of the company budget and limit growth down the road. But, that’s not to say there aren’t hosts out there who can get your site online while staying within your budget. Arch Hosting is a […]