Sunday, June 27, 2010

What I have in common with female pandas

This was my last weekend in China, and we were able to go do something that I've wanted to do since I first arrived eight months ago - visit a Giant Panda reserve in the western part of the country.

So, off we flew 1,800 km to Chengdu, the gateway to Tibet and the home of one of the largest panda breeding and research centers in the world.

And, while visiting this amazing place, I discovered that female pandas and infertiles have something in common - difficulty getting pregnant.

Pandas in the wild only number 1,600, which is while there is such an emphasis at this center and others to determine good ways to help them procreate. When there is such a small number in the wild, your number of mates is less than desirable, too.

Not only that, but they only have sex about once a year. And, to make matters worse, a panda's anatomy doesn't help either. According to the Giant Panda Museum, a male panda has a rather small penis and the female has a long vagina. So, conception the old-fashioned way is a bit difficult.

So, researchers have become expert semen collectors and use artificial insemination to get the females pregnant using a "frozen straw" method, sounds appealing, no?

And, even by using the medical intervention, the chances of conception are relatively low, though when they do, 45% result in twins. Oh, and the researchers use the panda's urine to do a pregnancy test, just like us.

So, we, infertiles can share our misery with the darling black and white gentle bears.

Besides, those babies are worth it, too.


  1. Just started following you. Thanks for your kind post on my blog.

    Your journey/story touches my heart and I wish you the very best.

    Interesting discovery about the pandas - I guess ART is all the rage now, even with the wild kingdom.

    Thinking of you...

  2. I love pandas and I am so jealous you were able to go visit a panda reserve. That is so cool. Did you take pictures?

  3. Oh my gosh! I had no idea. If I didn't love pandas so much already, I certainly would now!! It makes me sad, but I'm so glad there are people working to continue this species.

    What a sweet thing!