March 6, 2019 Calgary Zoo

What to Expect When You Hope to be Expecting

The Calgary Zoo is excited to share that we have begun a planned breeding program for Er Shun, our resident female panda! So, what does this mean for the Calgary Zoo and our visitors? Hopefully, panda babies!  

Having entered the early stages of her breeding cycle, the adult giant panda will be the focus of a collaborative breeding program over the next few weeks, utilizing hormone monitoring and artificial insemination (AI). AI is often used to manage for genetic diversity and improve captive breeding success, however, successful breeding does not always happen. In order to achieve the highest probability of success, the zoo tracks Er Shun’s hormone levels daily in urine and blood samples to determine the best timing for insemination. This process will be done collaboratively between the Calgary Zoo animal care and veterinary teams and a panda reproductive specialist from China.

Fewer than 1,800 giant pandas are left in the wild and caring for the four giant pandas currently residing at the Calgary Zoo is important to ongoing conservation. Giant pandas are an umbrella species and by helping to protect them, other species who inhabit their environment will also be protected. Each year they are here, the Calgary Zoo will contribute $1.4 million to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China to support conservation initiatives such as breeding, habitat protection, reintroduction science and research.

Our team has worked hard to prepare for this exciting new phase of Er Shun’s stay at the zoo. Construction for Panda Passage began in 2016. In addition to providing a beautiful habitat for the pandas, the back-of-house-area was built to accommodate a nursing den, should Er Shun become pregnant through this program.

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