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Thursday, 5th April 2012
In Events In Japan,

Japanese zoo hopes panda cubs are on the way

The world is holding its breath that a zoo in Japan may see the arrival of panda cubs this summer after a pair mated at Adventure World in Shirahama.

Giant pandas are highly endangered and rarely have offspring in captivitiy, so the news that a pair mated four times within the space of three days has raised hopes that cubs may be on their way, the Daily Yomiuri reported.

Female pandas are only able to conceive for a period of a few days each year, making breeding in captivity incredibly challenging.

Every year, mating time at zoos around the world is fraught with tension and pressure, often to no avail.

However, 19-year old male Eimei and his mate Rauhin, 11, responded after being placed into the same pen at the Wakayama Prefecture zoo.

While Britain's only pair of pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang at Edinburgh zoo are currently in the same pen with keepers hoping for similar results, back in Shirahama, Adventure World officials are delighted with the progress.

"They make a lovely couple," an official at the zoo told the newspaper.

The spokesperson added that if Rauhin has conceived, she will be expected to give birth in mid-August as last time she was pregnant her term lasted for around 140 days before she gave birth.

In 2008 the pair mated and Rauhin later gave birth to two cubs, one male and one female.

Two years later she gave birth to a set of twins and the world is hoping that recent events are similarly successful.

In the UK, wildlife expert Chris Packham caused controversy in 2009 when he said that giant pandas should be allowed to die out because as a species they are not strong enough to sustain themselves.

"Here's a species that of its own accord has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It's not a strong species," he said.

Packham argued that it was pointless to try to breed pandas in captivity because releasing them into the wild was not possible as there was not enough natural habitat for them to survive.

Posted by Kimberley Homer