Pandas: Better at Crowd Pleasing Than Breeding

For so many reasons, these cute bears should probably never have survived
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2009 1:38 PM CDT
Pandas: Better at Crowd Pleasing Than Breeding
In this April 24, 2007 file photo, Tai Shan, the popular giant panda cub at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, munches on bamboo in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Pandas have a lot working against them when it comes to to making babies: a once-yearly ovulation cycle, genetic inbreeding due to a limited captive population, and, apparently, some degree of ineptness at copulation itself. Zoo officials frequently see their excitement crushed by what turn out to be pseudopregnancies, and newborn cubs often don't survive, writes the Washington Post.

The four US zoos with pandas have spent lavishly on them, including $35 million in rental fees to China. That rental deal means that the young Tai Shan, whose birth was a coup for the National Zoo, will soon be headed back to China. But the National Zoo doesn't mind the high price: "We lost money on Apollo, too, you know." (More giant pandas stories.)

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