Will there be another giant panda birth in France?
The lights are now green at Beauval Zoo in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher (Loir-et-Cher).
Huan Huan and Yuan Zi, whose love allowed the eventful birth of Yuan Meng in August 2017, have obviously put all their chances on their side to become parents again.
The two have indeed come together closely, on March 21, during this very short window of 24-48 hours during which a female can, only once a year, be fertilized.
"The positions were good, the behavior of each of the animals as well," rejoices Baptiste Mulot, veterinary chief of the zoological park which has been welcoming them since January 2012. The fact remains that it was difficult for us, as is often the case with these animals. of strong build and very hairy, to know with certainty if the fertilization had indeed taken place.
We therefore preferred to ensure the process by performing artificial insemination.
"We remain cautious"
A precaution far from being useless as the conception of a giant panda does not have anything of a long calm river.
Hormonal analyzes, carried out from a urine sample from Huan Huan, have just delivered good news, unveiled on Monday by the zoo.
"They do not have the value of a pregnancy test at all, with a yes or a no, but an analysis marker lets us predict fertilization", continues the veterinarian.
The birth of a little panda is indeed the result of a complex process.
In these ursids, the embryo sees its growth block before a biological mechanism determines the most favorable period for its final development, its launch, finally, 50 to 60 days later, the birth.
“We now have to wait several days and observe Huan Huan,” explains Baptiste Mulot.
She should soon start to stock up on food and become calmer in order to prepare her nest.
There will then be two options: either the gestation is real and a birth will take place within 3 and a half to 6 months, or, and this also happens, Huan Huan does what is called a pseudo-gestation and goes in
without ultimately becoming one.
We are delighted but we remain cautious because that is what happened last spring.
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Regular ultrasounds and analyzes will make it possible to follow the embryo and the growth of the fetus in the event that Huan Huan is pregnant and therefore soon to be a mother.
It is also a way of checking whether to prepare for a single or a double birth.
“In pandas, it's 50/50, specifies Baptiste Mulot, but Huan Huan has already given birth to two cubs, one of whom unfortunately died a few hours after his birth in 2017. Twins, it would be a new event and a accomplishment for all zoo teams.
There are only about twenty births per year in the two Chinese breeding centers specializing in the reproduction and reintroduction into the natural environment of giant pandas.
Bringing a second birth would prove that the Beauval team did their job well and that China did well to trust us a few years ago.