The native Chinese Giant Panda is an endangered species, with less than 2,000 of them left both in captivity and in the wild. These animals are conservation reliant, meaning that they require intervention in order to aid their survival. One breeding program got creative with this intervention, when they began poking pandas with sticks, in order to encourage them to mate. Five year old panda, Su Shan was selected as one of fifteen pandas to breed this year, but she initially wasn’t feeling the vibe with seventeen year old Yang Yang.
Staff attempted a number of different mood setting ideas, including playing recorded sounds of Yang Yang before putting them together. This was unsuccessful, so breeders stepped it up a notch. A stick with an apple on the end was poked at Su Shan, and when it hit her tail, it triggered her desire to mate.
Unfortunately, only 5% of captive male giant pandas are able to naturally procreate, so it is uncertain as to whether Yang Yang and Su Shan’s antics will have resulted in a pregnancy- it takes two months to determine whether the program was successful. Good luck to both pandas: let’s hope the stick poking has paid off!