Pandas break record with mating session of 18 minutes, broadcast online

Straits Times Animal Antics

Kai Kai and Jia Jia - a pair of giant pandas in Singapore on a 10-year loan from China - may want to take some notes.

Passionate pandas Lu Lu and Xi Mei set a record for the longest panda mating session ever recorded this week - and their marathon 18 min 3 sec session was broadcast on the Internet via a website that monitors pandas.

The typical panda mating session can last for less than a minute.

'Live' videos showing the daily activities (including mating) of giant pandas from the Sichuan Bifengxia Giant Panda Research Centre in Ya'an is available via China Network Television's iPanda website.

Pandas are notoriously slow breeders, and their sex life usually makes the news for its lack of action. In September last year, male panda Kai Kai was reportedly "slightly more" interested in his female compatriot Jia Jia. No progress has been reported since.

This difficulty when it comes to making panda cubs is one reason that giant pandas are an endangered species. There are thought to be only 1,600 left in the wild.

They have a short reproductive window of 48 to 72 hours from March to May each year, according to the iPanda website.

Lu Lu has surprised panda keepers with his amorous behaviour. He also held the previous record of seven minutes and 45 seconds, with a different female - Zhen Zhen.

The latest video on the iPanda website however is a little anti-climactic, as pandas Wu Gang and Lin Bing fail to hit it off in a 50-minute video that claims to demystify the panda mating process.

"Male pandas can be picky about their mates, and when they don't like the partner, they will show symptoms similar to sexual apathy," breeder Luo Bo told news agency Xinhua.

It will take another two months before panda researchers can ascertain if the female pandas are pregnant.