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San Diego Zoo's Giant Pandas Have First Breeding Encounter Of The Season

Two giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo are pictured, March 10, 2015.
Tammy Spratt / San Diego Zoo
Two giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo are pictured, March 10, 2015.

The giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo are feeling amorous, but it likely won't be known for awhile if Tuesday's encounter between Bai Yun and Gao Gao will produce offspring.

After observing various signals that both pandas were in the mood, the two were left alone for their first breeding attempt since 2012, zoo officials said. The main viewing area for the pandas was closed and the online PandaCam was turned off.

Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research have been monitoring Bai Yun's hormone levels and watching for for physical cues, like scent marking, and listening to the vocalizations of both bears.

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Female giant pandas are only ready for breeding once a year and the opportunity lasts just 48 to 72 hours.

Staff won't know if the breeding season will yield a cub until a possible birth is imminent, maybe in July.

A half-dozen giant panda cubs have been born at the zoo since 1999. In the wild, giant pandas are considered to be critically endangered.

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