The Giant Panda’s Breeding (7 Things You Should Know)


In this article, we will discuss different facts you should know about the giant panda’s reproductive habits.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

When Are the Giant Pandas Breeding Season?

The giant pandas’ breeding season is mostly during spring. This takes place between March and May.

Their breeding season usually lasts for several months in a year. These female pandas are ready to mate in 2 to 7 days. However, they are only fertile between 24 to 72 hours.

In addition, the possibility of the female panda conceiving is slim.  This is because female pandas can only conceive between 24 to 72 hours per year. 

When this time expires, the females are likely not to conceive again. The next option would be to wait till the next breeding season. 

The Male Breeding Habit

On the other hand, the male pandas’ breeding habits show some differences from the female pandas.

With the female giant pandas, it’s easier to mate with lots of male pandas. It can mate with as many pandas that compete for her attention. 

This is usually a competitive period for male pandas. They have to gain the attention of the female pandas. 

Most times, they start by seeking out female pandas that are in their heat period. 

Male pandas can breed with as many breeding mates as possible in a breeding period. But at what age do giant pandas start breeding? 

Let’s find out!

How Old Do Pandas Have to Breed?

Breeding giant pandas

Pandas start breeding from 4 to 8 years. This is when they get to maturity.

Interestingly, female pandas ovulate once a year. After ovulation, they are likely to get pregnant and give birth. 

Giant pandas below this range are likely not to start breeding. However, some giant pandas’ breeding period goes beyond 8 years.

For example:

Some pandas go as far as being reproductive even in their 20’s. This is because the reproductive features are yet to mature.

On getting to 4 years of age, all these features mature in the right proportions. 

How Often Do Giant Pandas Breed?

Female pandas breed once a year

Giant pandas normally breed once a year. Their breeding season is usually during the spring period from March to May. 

As soon as the spring period is over, the female giant pandas stop mating with the male pandas.  The giant pandas are solitary animals. So, they only come together during the breeding season.

They can only breed once a year because they have a short breeding window. 

Check Out: How Often Do Giant Pandas Breed

What Are the Giant Pandas Breeding Habits?

The giant panda’s breeding season starts from March until May. This breeding season is the only time they freely interact and associate with fellow pandas. 

The female pandas can only mate with the male panda they are attracted to. In other words, the male pandas have to compete for their attention. 

Now, the panda’s breeding season is quite small and lasts for just 3 to 4 months. There is not enough time for the male pandas to mate as long as they want. 

They have to know the female pandas’ breeding season if they want to maximize it. The male pandas have to double their effort in attracting a female panda if they want to mate. 

Interesting Read: Why Do Giant Pandas Spend Summer Inside?

Are Giant Pandas Hard to Breed?

Yes, giant pandas are hard to breed. This is because of the female pandas’ short breeding period.

The male pandas usually find it difficult to find the right panda to mate. Before they can attract the right female panda, the breeding season might have passed. 

4 reasons why giant pandas are hard to breed

1. Pandas only ovulate once a year

Usually, the giant pandas’ breeding season is pretty short. It starts during spring and lasts from March to May. During this period, the male pandas are to compete for the female panda’s attention. 

This period is not enough for the giant pandas to successfully breed with the female pandas.

Most times, the male pandas find it hard to identify a female panda when they are in their mating season. 

Before they can breed, the female pandas may have passed their mating period which is once per year. 

2. Pandas find it hard to Mate

Apart from the short mating period of pandas, the male pandas find it difficult to mount the female pandas. 

This mounting comes after the male pandas must have found a breeding mate. 

During the ovulation period of the female pandas, it is advisable to allow the male pandas to mate naturally with the female pandas. 

It is somewhat disappointing that the male pandas find it difficult to do that. As a result, giant panda caretakers resort to artificial insemination. 

3. Lack of competition in captivity

Due to the limited number of pandas in captivity, it is hard for them to breed.

In a situation where there are lots of pandas, the giant pandas have many options to choose from.  However, pandas in captivity are not so much in population and this affects their breeding rate.

A limited number of female pandas in their breeding season lead to lesser competition. 

When there is no competition between male pandas, they are likely not to have an interest in mating with female pandas. 

4. Lack of interest

Most times, the low rate of reproductiveness can be attributed to a lack of interest from the male pandas.

The giant pandas are expected to compete for the female panda’s attention during the breeding season. 

A female panda is seen in their heat period which lasts between 24 to 72 hours in spring.

During this period, the giant pandas don’t have many female pandas to mate with. This affects the male panda’s interest in mating.

Check Out: How Do Giant Pandas Find a Mate?

Maybe you are wondering if there are programs in place to help sustain the breeding of giant pandas. Yes!

They are called the giant panda breeding program. 

Let’s learn more below!

The Giant Panda Captive Breeding Program

Giant pandas in captive breeding program

The giant panda program is a program that helps:

  1. Increase the breeding rate of the giant pandas
  2. Preserve the panda population as much as possible

About the Program:

In 1955, the movement to breed giant pandas in captivity began. But the results were not seen immediately after the movement started. 

On September 9, 1963, the first captive-bred panda cub was given birth in the zoo. It was named Ming Ming. 

Since the birth of Ming Ming in the zoo, more efforts have been intensified into improving the breeding of pandas in captivity. 

Although the breeding program is relatively important in preserving the panda’s lives, it is a tasking process. 

Other captive breeding program

  • Artificial Insemination

Due to technology, scientists have been able to come up with the right technique to tackle the panda’s breeding difficulty. 

Since the male pandas have to find out the perfect time to mate, technology has helped scientists know about it. 

They get some semen from any of the healthy male pandas in captivity. Next, they ensure it is fit for use. 

After this, they go ahead and inseminate the semen into a female panda. 

Where To Find The Giant Panda Breeding Center?

Most of the giant panda breeding centers are found in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.

It serves as a breeding facility for giant pandas. It also accommodates other rare animals. 

There are about 4 major captive breeding centers in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. They include;

  • Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Program
  • Dujiangyan Panda Base
  • Bifengxia Giant Panda Base
  • Wolong Panda Research Center 

Recap:

The female pandas enter their estrus cycle once per year. This is usually during spring from March to MayHowever, they are only ready to mate between 2 to 7 days.

The female pandas enter their fertile period and this lasts for just 24 to 72 hours. 

In other words, the male pandas are faced with a limited time to mate with the female pandas.  Also, the male pandas usually do not have an interest in mating with the female pandas.

They have stayed so long in captivity. As a result, they barely know how to mate. 

Therefore, scientists result in artificial insemination to help improve the breeding rate of giant pandas. 

With captive breeding programs, the pandas are provided an opportunity for a better life. It helps cater to both the female panda and cub. 

If you want to learn more about the giant panda’s birth and gender, check out my article “Are All Pandas Born Female?”