After several mating attempts by the National Zoo's giant pandas were unsuccessful, the animal care staff today turned to artificial means to try to achieve a panda cub birth.Last year, the IUI attempt was made almost as an afterthought; it was probably too late in Mei's cycle, but she was already being examined and the sample from Tian was onhand and available. It couldn't hurt, so an IUI was done.
Starting about 5 a.m. zoo employees first anesthetized male Tian Tian and took his sperm. Once he was recovering, they anesthetized female Mei Xiang and artificially inseminated her. Zoo officials said both are recovering from the anesthesia.
This year, the timing is much more likely to bear fruit. And, considering that Tian Tian has super sperm (the one count I heard about last year was something like 800-times what would normally be expected based on data from Chinese panda IUI programs). So, if everything works out, there could be a baby in the panda house by Labor Day.