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Adult pandas to get privacy -- in anticipation of mating

April 15, 2011 |  4:38 pm

Pandas
The two adult giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo will be out of sight this weekend -- in hopes they will have their annual tryst.

The female panda is thought to be in season only three days a year -- a factor in the species' dwindling population in the wild. Another factor is that the male and female don't really like each other.

But researchers at the San Diego Zoo think that Bai Yun, 19, the mother of five, is ready for breeding. She and Gao Gao, 20, got together Friday after initially meeting at the "howdy gate" that separates their living quarters.

In hopes of conception, researchers are putting the two off-exhibit this weekend to encourage further mating sessions. The couple's youngest cub, Yun Zi, born in 2009, will be visible at the smaller of the two panda exhibits.

Bai Yun and Gao Gao are kept separate all year -- except for that special 72 hours, which usually occurs in mid-April. For weeks, researchers, veterinarians and volunteers have monitored Bai Yun's behavior and estrus levels.

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--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Gao Gao, left, meets Bai Yun at the "howdy gate." Credit: San Diego Zoo

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