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.
Antti Lipponen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute created this troubling but unsurprising chart of almost 140 years of temperature anomalies by country. The data used was from the NASA GISS, Land Ocean Temperature Index. You can probably guess what will happen.
NASA’s AIRS instrument captured this image of Tropical Storm Fay around 2 p.m. local time on July 10, 2020, as the storm swept through New England. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Tropical Storm Fay is sweeping across New England, with the center of the storm making landfall about 10 miles (15 kilometers) north-northeast […]
The deadly 2013 El Reno tornado was 2.5 miles (4 km) wide and killed a team of tornado experts. But as Anton Seimon explains, his colleagues turned that tragedy into an opportunity to confirm a key element of tornado formation.
You probably have a lot of items in your home that you’d hate to lose to theft or damage. While certainly no one ever hopes to fall victim to a natural disaster or home invasion, you need to be prepared just in case it does happen. When it comes to choosing a reliable renters insurance, […]
The average US household replaces their mattress about every seven years. So if it’s been more than that, or even a lot more than that, it might be time to invest in a new slumber HQ. And most sleep experts will tell you the right mattress really should be looked at as an investment. Because […]
If there’s any knock on most smartwatches, up to and including the industry-leading Apple Watch, it’s probably that the bands aren’t…well, they aren’t usually the greatest. While Apple is certainly making strides in the watchband game, most models are just as black, boring and nondescript as you’d expect from a tech company. And where many […]