Giant pandas have a very short window for reproduction. Women can only get pregnant for 24 to 72 hours a year.
In April 2020, two pandas at a Hong Kong zoo finally mated after 10 years of trying, underscoring the importance of each mating session.
Huan Huan represented in its enclosure.
ZooParc de Beauval praised the performance of its pandas over the weekend.
“Huan Huan was at the peak of his hormonal peak and Yuan Zi … was obviously in top form!” read the statement.
“The two (bears) obviously had some rest periods during these vital hours … but they obviously weren’t very tired.”
Yuan Zi was “more at ease” during the event than in previous years, according to the statement, which noted that the couple was “cooperative and quite active” during their repeated encounters.
“Our male has made progress compared to last year,” said Baptiste Mulot, Beauval’s chief veterinarian. “He has a better idea of what to do.”
While there is no guarantee that Huan Huan will get pregnant, the zoo said the mating session was “pretty good”, noting “a lot of high-pitched noises” from Huan Huan and “more hoarse grunts” from Yuan Zi.
Veterinarians also artificially inseminated Huan Huan to improve her chances of getting pregnant, the zoo said, and the team will have a better idea of whether the mating session was a success in about 15 days.
The zoo has received special bamboo shoots from China to make sure Huan Huan gets all the nutrients he needs, as bamboo is out of season in France.
Both pandas are 12 years old and have been at the French zoo since 2012.
Huan Huan could become a mother for the second time, after giving birth to a male cub named Yuan Meng, the first giant panda born in France, 3.5 years ago.
The gestation period for giant pandas ranges from 72 to 324 days.