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Baby panda watch is on: Calgary zoo artificially inseminates female panda

The Calgary Zoo is starting up its panda breeding program. Global News

The Calgary Zoo is one step closer to welcoming a panda cub, or cubs, to the newly welcomed panda family, as staff artificially inseminated the adult female, Er Shun.

In posts on the zoo’s Facebook and Twitter pages on Wednesday, officials said Er Shun was inseminated on Tuesday, April 2 as part of the planned breeding program.

The zoo said back in early March that the mother giant panda had entered her breeding cycle.

READ MORE: More panda cubs at the Calgary Zoo? Er Shun enters breeding cycle

It’s too soon to know whether the insemination process was a success, the zoo said, because pandas experience what’s called “embryonic diapause” or delayed implantation of the uterus. The zoo said it will be several weeks before officials know whether she is pregnant.

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In a video accompanying the posts, the zoo shared a glimpse of the insemination process.

Staff can be seen examining specimens using microscopes, setting up a procedure room and hoisting Er Shun onto a table.

The giant panda is then seen under sedation, being checked over by the team in the room and getting what appears to be an ultrasound.

Watch (March 2019): Baby panda cubs could be born at Calgary Zoo as breeding season begins. Jill Croteau reports. 

Click to play video: 'Baby panda cubs could be born at Calgary Zoo as breeding season begins' Baby panda cubs could be born at Calgary Zoo as breeding season begins
Baby panda cubs could be born at Calgary Zoo as breeding season begins – Mar 6, 2019

The zoo said Er Shun is staying in a custom-built nursing den at the back of the Panda Passage area and is being taken care of by a comprehensive team.

The pandas are on loan from China as part of a 10-year breeding program. Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Canada in March 2013, staying at the Toronto Zoo. After being successfully artificially inseminated, Er Shun delivered her cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, in October 2015. The cubs were the first giant pandas to be born in Canada.

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The pandas arrived in Calgary in May 2018 after a five-year stay in Toronto.

— With files from Global News’ Melissa Gilligan

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