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2 pandas at Tokyo's Ueno zoo show signs they're ready to mate as hopes for new cub arise

Shin Shin, a 15-year-old female panda, is seen is this photo taken on Feb. 20, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Park Society)
Ri Ri, a 15-year-old male panda, is seen is this photo taken on Feb. 20, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Park Society)

TOKYO -- A zoo in the capital's Taito Ward announced on March 4 that two giant pandas, Ri Ri and Shin Shin, are displaying signs that they are ready to mate, and said it will let the two live in the same place over a short period if the latter is seen practicing behavior that shows that the time is right.

    Ueno Zoological Gardens say it has seen Ri Ri, a 15-year-old male, urinating upside down and increasing the number of times it left its scent marks since November 2020, which are signs it is ready to mate. Furthermore, the zoo also judged that Shin Shin, a 15-year-old female, is nearing heat as she was seen leaving more scent marks and her urine tests began showing changes in hormone levels since late February.

    If a cub is born between Ri Ri and Shin Shin, it will be the first time since they gave birth to Xiang Xiang, a now 3-year-old female. According to the zoo, the breeding season for pandas is usually from February to May, but a female panda is only capable of conceiving a cub for several days once a year. A female panda gives birth to a cub 80 to 200 days after mating.

    Ueno Zoological Gardens is currently closed for business due to the coronavirus state of emergency. If the two pandas continue to show signs they are ready to mate even after reopening, it will temporarily stop their display.

    (Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, City News Department)

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