Reproductive scientists and veterinarians from the Smithsonian's National Zoo alongside Tang Chunxiang, the assistant director and chief veterinarian of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at Wolong performed a second artificial insemination on giant panda Mei Xiang Saturday, March 30, around 6 p.m.
During the first artificial insemination scientists used a combination of fresh and frozen semen from Tian Tian. For the second procedure, Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated with frozen semen from two different males.
Scientists used thawed semen collected from the San Diego Zoo's male giant panda, Gao Gao, in 2003. They then used thawed semen collected from Tian Tian in 2003. Mei Xiang was inseminated with semen from Gao Gao in 2007, but she did not give birth to a cub.
A wild-born male giant panda, Gao Gao arrived at the San Diego Zoo on Jan. 15, 2003, from the People's Republic of China as part of the Zoo's research loan. He was born in China's Baoxing County but was kept in the Fengtongzhai Rescue Center for most of his early life after reintroduction efforts failed to keep him out of areas inhabited by humans. He was transferred to the Wolong Nature Reserve prior to his journey to the San Diego Zoo. Gao Gao had shown interest in female pandas in Wolong; however, he had not fathered any offspring until his arrival in San Diego. He is the sire of five cubs born to Bai Yun at the San Diego Zoo: Mei Sheng, Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, Yun Zi and Xiao Liwu.
Both Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have recovered from the procedures over the weekend and are doing well. The Zoo will run a paternity analysis if a cub is born. The David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat reopened to the public yesterday, March 31, and visitors can see both Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.