River Safari's project panda baby pins hopes on Science

19 APR 2018

River Safari’s efforts to breed giant pandas under human care enter the fourth year, with female panda Jia Jia crossing her estrous period in early April.

On 7 April, female giant panda Jia Jia’s team of keepers and veterinarians leapt into action when her hormonal levels indicated that she was ovulating. Around 20 members of the core team were activated around 8pm on a Saturday evening.

 

To maximise the chances of a panda pregnancy, the giant panda pair were not brought together for natural mating so the veterinary team could secure quality semen samples from male panda Kai Kai for artificial insemination.


Dr Sonja Luz, Director of Conservation, Research and Veterinary Services said, “Our game plan this year was to preserve as much fresh semen as possible from Kai Kai. In past mating attempts, good semen samples were sometimes lost in excitement when the bears were brought together. This year, we extracted almost 1.8ml of a high quality sample showing 92% sperm vitality, and with that the veterinary team feels hopeful for a panda pregnancy later this year.”


Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Our team tirelessly kept a round-the-clock watch on Jia Jia’s estrogen levels this year; we were very successful in identifying her peak within her ovulation window and acted immediately when it was time. The artificial insemination procedure went very smoothly and we hope for good news later this year.”


Assisting the team at River Safari for the third year was a team of three led by Prof Ng Soon Chye, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist internationally renowned for his expertise in reproductive medicine.


It is now a waiting game, as giant pandas have delayed implantation and as such, a pregnancy or a pseudo pregnancy cannot be determined until the later part of the panda’s gestation period, which in Jia Jia’s case, falls between August to September.

River Safari’s efforts to breed giant pandas under human care enter the fourth year, with female panda Jia Jia crossing her estrous period in early April. Assisting the vet team at River Safari for the artificial insemination procedure was a team led by Prof Ng Soon Chye (in white), an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist internationally renowned for his expertise in human reproductive medicine.  

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Asst. Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Abraham Mathew and Dr Sonja Luz, Director of Conservation, Research and Veterinary Services (in blue) delicately carrying out artificial insemination on Jia Jia. The vet team collected a good semen sample from male panda Kai Kai and are hopeful for a panda pregnancy.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

The vet team collected a good semen sample, showing a 92% sperm vitality, from male panda Kai Kai and are optimistic about chances of a pregnancy. Last year, the sperm vitality was 70%.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE