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National Zoo performs insemination on giant panda

Saturday - 3/30/2013, 1:24pm  ET

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2012 file photo, Mei Xiang, a giant female panda, rests at the National Zoo in Washington. The National Zoo says breeding season has arrived for the giant pandas after a cub was born last year but died six days later. The zoo said Wednesday that female panda Mei Xiang and male panda Tian Tian are showing signs they are ready to breed. Also, Mei Xiang's hormones have been rising. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Chinese veterinarian has performed an artificial insemination on the National Zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang (may-SHONG).

Animal keepers detected a rise in panda hormone levels and breeding behaviors this week. A team of scientists performed the artificial insemination Saturday morning after animal keepers determined there was no natural breeding overnight between Mei Xiang and male panda Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN).

Veterinarian Tang Chunxiang traveled from China's Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda to assist with the breeding. The zoo says a second procedure will likely be performed later Saturday.

Mei Xiang delivered a cub last year, but the tiny female died six days later. Her only surviving offspring, Tai Shan (tie-SHON) was born in 2005.

The panda house has been closed since Tuesday but reopens Sunday.


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