Eight-year-old female panda, Lin Hui, finally gave birth to a 200 gram (7 ounce) baby panda at Chiang Mai zoo via artificial insemination, after numerous attempts to get her and male partner, 9-year-old Xuang Xuang to mate failed.
Both Thai pandas, which are actually on a 10-year loan from China, had shown no interest in reproducing since their arrival in Thailand back in 2003. Chiang Mai
Zoo authorities had done everything they could, including showing videos of panda matings to the couple in order for them to be 'aroused' to mate but to no avail.
A team of veterinarian then took matters into their own hands by artificially inseminating the female panda with semen from her male companion twice. The first attempt was made in April 2007 but failed. Then the team tried again on February this year, and their effort bore fruit, or rather, a cub this time around.
The baby panda however, is expected to be returned to China within two years time -- according to the 10-year loan agreement. But Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
has pledged to negotiate with China on his visit to the country next month, to seek permission for the/any newborn panda cub to stay longer in Thailand.
Giant pandas, known for their low sex drive, are considered to be one of the world's most endangered species. At present, it is believed there are only about 1,600 pandas surviving in China's wild, and about 180 are kept in zoos across the world.