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What’s Black and White and May Be Pregnant?

Is Er Shun ‘nesting’ in this video?

June 12, 2014 - On Sunday, April 27th, 2014 a giant panda expert from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China and Toronto Zoo staff from the Conservation, Education & Wildlife department became the first team in Canada to artificially inseminate a giant panda. As giant pandas are critically endangered, the Toronto Zoo is very proud to be participating and partnering in a giant panda conservation breeding program.

Since January 2014, Dr. Gabriella Mastromonaco, Reproductive Physiologist at the Toronto Zoo and her team had been monitoring Er Shun, the female giant panda. Er Shun started showing signs of going into estrus through elevated estrogen levels and decreased progesterone levels leading up to April 27th. As this critical period of estrus lasts for two or three days and only occurs once a year, the Toronto Zoo team had to act very quickly.

As Da Mao, our five and half year old male panda was too sexually immature and did not show any interest in breeding at this time, a decision was then made to artificially inseminate Er Shun.

Giant pandas have what is called delayed implantation and the gestation period is anywhere from 87 days up to 186 days from the date of insemination. As a result, Toronto Zoo staff will not know if she is pregnant until approximately 20 days before she would give birth. Staff are currently training Er Shun for ultrasound and hope they will be able to see a fetus during this time frame. Toronto Zoo staff continue to monitor her daily and watch for any unusual behavior.

Amanda Chambers, Public Relations and Events at 416-392-5974 or achambers@torontozoo.ca.

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