Animals & Attractions

Giant panda Tian Tian at Edinburgh Zoo

When does the Giant Panda mature sexually?

Wild female Giant Pandas are sexually mature at the age of 5½ -6½ years and wild males at 6 -7 years. Giant Pandas in captivity mature up to a year earlier as the living conditions and nutrition are better than in the wild.

How frequently do female Giant Pandas enter oestrus?

Female Giant Pandas enter oestrus (come "on heat" and ready to mate) once a year, for 2-4 days on average.


In which season do Giant Pandas breed?

It is generally in spring. However, it is also affected by abnormal climate, the latitude and altitude of their habitat.


In the wild, are Giant Pandas monogamous (pair for life)?

No. They are polygamous.


How do male Giant Pandas know that a female is in oestrus?

The glandular secretions and urine are different when they are in oestrus. Males respond by tracking the females by scent and vocalisation.


How long is the gestation period of the giant panda?

5 months on average, though it can vary from 83 days to 324 days.

In which season does the Giant Panda give birth?

Usually Giant Pandas mate in spring and give birth in autumn, especially from August to September. In rare cases, they deliver in the next spring. There has been only one case like this so far in the Wolong Breeding Centre.


How many births could a female Giant Panda have during her life?

A female Giant Panda in the wild could have 6 babies in her lifetime. The number of babies born in captivity could be double that because the living conditions in captivity are better, (which causes earlier sexual maturity). Cubs are weaned at 5 months of age and mating is guaranteed by combining natural and artificial insemination.


How many cubs does a female Giant Panda give birth to at one time?

Generally, one or two cubs are born. Triplets are rare.

Does the mother feed all her cubs?

The mother will take good care of her cub if it is a single cub. However the mother will only choose the strongest to feed and will abandon the others if twins or triplets are born. This is the so called "cub-abandon behaviour" of Giant Pandas.


What does the newborn cub look like?

It is very tiny with a body of 15 -17cm long and weighs around 36-296 grams. Its eyes are tightly closed. It is pink in colour with sparse white hair. It can neither stand nor crawl. However it can raise its head and make a loud sound.


How long does it take for a cub to resemble the appearance of an adult?

About 2 months.


When does a Giant Panda cub open its eyes?

It begins to open its eyes about 40 days after birth. They have their eyes wide open after about 50 days. It begins to have sense of sight after 70-90 days.

Do male Giant Pandas help in caring for the cubs?

No, males do not help the females in caring for the young. They go away after mating, leaving the females to take full responsibility for pregnancy as well as delivering, caring and training the cubs.

How old are wild Giant Panda cubs when they leave their mothers?

Giant Panda babies leave their mothers and start their own lives at the age of 1½ years. However they still stay in their mother's home range. At the age of 2½ years old, they leave their mother's home range and create their own territory.

Is it difficult to breed Giant Pandas in captivity?

Female Pandas are in oestrus for two to four days each year. It is only during this short period of time that they can become pregnant. In addition some Panda pairings may not be compatible, making the chance of a successful pregnancy even more difficult.

However, techniques such as artificial insemination have proved to be successful in recent years. At the Wolong Breeding Centre in China, they have produced 94 cubs since 2006. Panda cub births have also been on the increase in zoos across the world. We are confident that we have the skills and expertise to contribute to the growing success of Panda reproduction in zoos.

When and where was the first captive breeding success?

On 9th September 1963 Giant Panda "Mingming" was born at Beijing Zoo.

This was the first Giant Panda born in captivity in modern times.

When and where was the first artificial insemination of Giant Pandas?

On 8th September 1978, giant panda "Yuanjing" was born at Beijing Zoo through artificial insemination.

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