1st-ever footage of big pandas mating within the wild just isn’t ‘cute and cuddly’


A pair of aggressive male big pandas roar ferociously on the bottom beneath a feminine perched in a tree, within the first-ever footage of panda courtship and mating within the wild. 

For almost three years, nature filmmakers Yuanqi Wu and Jacky Poon adopted pandas in China’s Qinling Mountains, hoping to seize proof of elusive habits that was unseen in captive animals, that are mated underneath managed circumstances that don’t embrace competitions between males. 

Their endurance paid off throughout breeding season, after they spied two bristling males squaring off on the foot of a tree, with a fertile feminine within the branches above. This and different outstanding scenes of panda life — together with a younger cub studying essential survival expertise — are a part of the brand new PBS Nature documentary “Pandas: Born to be Wild,” premiering Wednesday (Oct. 21). 

Associated: In pictures: The lifetime of an enormous panda

Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are standard for his or her comically spherical physique form and lovely antics, and movies of captive pandas enjoying in snow; rolling round like big balls; utilizing their heads to climb; and even by accident face-planting, are undeniably enchanting. However when these bears are seen of their pure habitat, “there’s nothing cute and cuddly about them,” Jacky Poon, “Born to be Wild” filmmaker, stated within the documentary. 

Grownup male pandas can weigh as a lot as 300 lbs. (136 kilograms) and are almost 7 ft (2 meters) tall when standing upright on their hind legs, based on the World Wildlife Fund. Pandas are extremely territorial, and males often work together with females solely throughout mating season between March and Could, WWF says.

Within the tense standoff between the dominant, older male panda and an keen rival, the youthful male ultimately retreated, however when the feminine got here down from her perch, she fought with the victor and escaped. For weeks, the 2 males trailed her, their growling challenges turning into extra frequent and culminating in one other tense confrontation. However per week later, when the feminine was lastly able to mate, only one suitor remained — the youthful male. 

Male pandas’ bellowing, scent marking and feminine “hostage”-holding are mating behaviors that will set off ovulation in feminine pandas. That might clarify why pandas are so troublesome to breed in captivity, within the absence of this male competitors.

Large panda mom and her one-month-old cub. (Picture credit score: Photograph by Jacky Poon/Copyright Terra Mater Factual Studios and Mark Fletcher Productions)

One other star of “Born to be Wild” is a younger male cub born by means of synthetic insemination on the Wolong Panda Heart and raised there in a particular enclosure. A lot of the reserve’s cubs develop up round different pandas and human caretakers, and so they’re extra social than is typical for wild, solitary bears. Nonetheless, to arrange this younger panda for all times within the wild as an grownup, the caretakers will hold him for 3 years solely along with his mom, separated from different pandas and with very restricted interplay with folks. 

However caretakers nonetheless must repeatedly test the cub’s well being and improvement; to try this, they gown in panda fits, they usually additional disguise their human scent by dousing themselves with panda urine. Although these costumes could not appear terribly real looking, they’re shut sufficient to the actual factor to idiot a younger panda; imaginative and prescient in these children is understood to be very poor, PBS Nature representatives stated in an announcement. 

Wolong Panda Heart keeper disguised as a panda. The keepers gown as pandas to go to children which can be candidates for the reintroduction program. Human contact is stored to a minimal.  (Picture credit score: Photograph by Jacky Poon/Copyright Terra Mater Factual Studios and Mark Fletcher Productions)

“Nature — Pandas: Born to be Wild” airs Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. (test native listings), pbs.org/nature and the PBS Video app 

Initially revealed on Reside Science.


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