This week, a set of twin panda girls was born in Chengdu, China. A recent report from The Guardian details their arrival, all starting with the artificial insemination in January.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are fewer than 1,900 pandas still living in the wild. Captive breeding programs have been essential to continue the survival of the species, and this was the first set of giant panda twins born this year.
Trying to make pandas mate in captivity is extremely difficult, so sometimes, artificial insemination is the only option — just like it may be for the 6.7 million women with fertility issues. It’s also an arduous process to know if a panda is pregnant for sure, Pandas International says on its website.
“Neither artificial insemination nor natural mating will guarantee a pregnancy, and veterinarians must simply wait (and wait….and wait) before they know for certain that a panda is truly pregnant.”
“Everyone is enormously excited about baby pandas because they are undeniably attractive,” Stuart Pimm, Duke University professor of conservation ecology, commented. “So by having pandas in zoos it really engages people – it really is about getting people to care, and that’s important.”
Drawing attention for the pandas is extremely important, because the more people are interested and invested in the pandas, the more likely they will be to look into protection and conservation of the species and their habitat.
The panda twins weren’t the only little ones born from artificial insemination this week. Brother and sister clouded leopard cubs made their debut in Chon Buri in Thailand. Like the pandas, there is a steadily decreasing number of these leopards in the wild — currently, only around 10,000.