London Zoo's two young Giant Pandas may be mated for the first time in the next few days.
London Zoo's two young Giant Pandas may be mated for the first time in the next few days. Ching Ching and Chia Chia were presented to the United Kingdom by China in 1974 after a visit to Peking by Britain's former Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath. Now zoo-keepers believe he pair are old enough to mate and are watching carefully for the right signs.
SYNOPSIS: Normally, Chia Chia, the male, and Ching Ching, seen here in the background, are kept in separate cages, though they remain close neighbours. They are two of the zoo's most popular attractions, mostly because of their appealing looks and gymnastic abilities, but also because they are rare animals found only in parts of China and Tibet.
It is very difficult to breed pandas in captivity. London Zoo's previous panda, Chi-Chi, hit the headlines when she went to Russia for a match with Moscow's An-An. But that mating attempt failed. The zoo authorities hope their present pair will take an interest in more than just eating bamboo shoots.
Keeper George Callard believes the mating could take place anytime. But he stresses that both animals are still young and will not be pressured into parenthood. One thing is certain, Ching Ching's waistline will be a source of summer speculation.