Artificial insemination in the Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleaca)

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Abstract

Artificial insemination was carried out on three adult captive Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Oestrus in these animals was detected by behavioural observations and by the rise in urinary oestrogen metabolites. Semen was collected from a mature male by electroejaculation. Changes in the quality of semen and the size of the testes indicated a seasonal fluctuation in sperm production. Spermatozoa were capable of penetrating zona-free hamster oocytes and remained viable for up to five days at 15–20°C in a modified Tyrode's medium. After freezing and thawing in a cryopreserving diluent, approximately 50% of spermatozoa recovered progressive motility and displayed a similar velocity to spermatozoa prior to freezing. Unusual protrusions of the acrosome of the panda spermatozoon were noted.

Following insemination, one female conceived and gave birth, after a gestation of 159 days, to two cubs, one of which subsequently died. Another female exhibited a rise in circulating progesterone but pregnancy was not confirmed.

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