SINGAPORE - A recent attempt to artificially inseminate female panda Jia Jia, one of River Safari's main attractions, has failed to produce a much-anticipated baby.
This was the fourth attempt at helping Jia Jia and her mate, Kai Kai, conceive through artificial insemination.
The pair celebrated their birthdays on Friday (Sept 14), with Kai Kai turning 11 on that day itself. Jia Jia's 10th birthday fell on Sept 3.
The pandas are on loan from Sichuan for 10 years and have been in Singapore for six years.
A spokesman from Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) told The Straits Times on Saturday that both Jia Jia and Kai Kai had entered their fourth mating season in April earlier this year.
A veterinary team from WRS thus decided to employ artificial insemination in an attempt to help Jia Jia conceive, as the procedure would be able to secure the best quality of semen from Kai Kai.
On Tuesday, however, it was determined that the artificial insemination attempt was unsuccessful despite Jia Jia having displayed increased moodiness and longer naps, which are signs of a possible pregnancy or pseudo-pregnancy.
Jia Jia, who ovulates only once a year, and whose fertility peaks for just 24 to 36 hours, first began displaying signs that she was ready to mate around the first half of this year. These included her sitting in her bath and swimming in the pool in her enclosure for slightly longer-than-usual periods of time.
After a while, Kai Kai started peering at Jia Jia through the gate that separates their enclosures, became particularly interested in sniffing her urine and would roll in it if he could.
On April 7, a team from WRS, together with consultants from Gleneagles Hospital, successfully carried out the artificial insemination attempt.
Both Kai Kai and Jia Jia were tranquillised and ferried to a clinic for the procedure.
Keepers had expressed hope then that there would be good news this year.
Adult pandas in the wild are solitary creatures and come together only during the mating season. When the time comes to mate, it is often difficult for them to succeed naturally because of a lack of experience, or because they have never seen the deed done before.