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Pandas Again Miss Chance To Mate

April 9, 1998

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Maybe he had a headache. Or maybe the San Diego Zoo’s bamboo is so tasty, it’s all a panda really needs.

For whatever reason, Shi Shi, the zoo’s male giant panda bear, has again shown a lack of libido toward his female counterpart.

So researchers decided Wednesday to inseminate the female bear artificially rather than pass on another year of panda procreation.

``This is the only way that we can circumvent his failure to perform,″ said Donald Lindburg, a reproduction behaviorist with the zoo. ``The male is relentless in his unfriendly behavior.″

Bai Yun, a playful 6-year-old female, employed all her feminine wiles, but Shi Shi, a cranky 20-year-old male, was more interested in munching bamboo. Shi Shi simply barked, growled and swatted at the much younger bear whenever she approached him.

``He is showing no friendliness whatsoever, despite the fact that (Wednesday) she was literally backing under him and forcing the issue,″ Lindburg said.

Zoo officials sedated Shi Shi to collect semen before implanting it into Bai Yun on Wednesday night, but they won’t know if Bai Yun is pregnant until late July or early August.

Female pandas are fertile only one to two days a year. Researchers hoped the pandas would mate this season after a failed attempt last year.

Researchers were unsure if Shi Shi’s failure to perform was because he was too old, too uninterested or too traumatized by a nearly fatal fight over a female panda during his younger years in the forests of China.

The two bears were shipped to the zoo from China in 1996 as part of a 12-year research program on the endangered species.

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