Behavioural changes in Hao Hao and Xing Hui, the giant pandas at Pairi Daiza, could signal the start of a reproduction period, the zoo said in a press release on Friday. The keepers are on high alert. Two koalas will also arrive soon.
The zoo sent several samples of Hao Hao’s urine to Ghent University. They will check for a peak in oestrogen, which will indicate the optimum period for breeding. “The last results show that we are approaching the hoped for peak”, the press release said.
Tom Bouts, the zoo director, said “Hao hao‘s hormone levels have dramatically increased, and are now at a similar level to last year. These test results and changes in the giant panda’s behaviour indicate that we are now in this year’s reproduction cycle”.
Chinese panda reproduction specialists will go to Belgium. An artificial insemination could be attempted, although natural conception will have priority, the zoo managers say.
The panda gestation period lasts four to five months. In other news, two koalas will also arrive at the World Gardens in mid-March. They will come from a protection and reproduction centre in Australia. The two marsupials are from a genetic line that had been absent in Europe until now.