Panda-monium at the Zoo: Will they or won’t they?

Xing Er and Mao Sun have one 30-40 hour window a year in which to conceive. Yesterday was the optimal moment

Pandas really are the strangest animals. 

When they’re born, their average weight is 100 grams, so only 1/900th of their mother’s weight. Humans, in comparison, are typically 1/20th. It’s like they’re born way too soon.

And mating! Female pandas only ovulate once a year, which means the window for impregnation is barely 40 hours. Somebody up there is having a laugh.

Let alone copulation: sometimes it can go badly wrong and they end up killing each other. It’s not uncommon for staff to be ready with water guns should it kick off.

Now that is really taking the biscuit!

Er … that’s a peculiar vintage of urine
But the odds of Xing Er getting his companion Mao Sun at Copenhagen Zoo up the duff have shortened considerably over the weekend.

This is their third year of trying after arriving in 2019. On previous occasions, Xing Er has been more interested in sizing up the tastiest bamboo. 

But this year, urine from other male pandas has been sprinkled around the enclosure to give Xing Er reason to think he has competition.

And according to the zoological director, Mads Bertelsen, Mao Sun’s hormonal levels reveal that her heat has been falling over the weekend: an early indicator that all is favourable. 

“It looks promising, and the chance is at least greater than last year,” he told DR. “The male is doing some of the ‘right things’: he is interested, focused on the female and trying to get her in the right position.”

Hard to get wood … unless it’s bamboo
It might not help that hundreds of extra zoo visitors are turning up in the hope they can add “I watched two pandas having it off” to their bucket list.

As anyone who has seen ‘Boogie Nights’ knows, not everyone can perform in front of the cameras.

Peter and Birte Brandt, a retired couple whose own mating days are probably over, rushed out yesterday after they heard the news on DR. 

“We heard that they would be put together at 12 o’clock,” Peter told DR. “We luckily found a good place. But they have not mated yet.”

And yes, the window is closing, but there is still hope. Should Mao Sun give birth, the zoo can expect to keep the young panda for two years before it is shipped off overseas.