Just like any other long-married,childless couples out there struggling to dodge their relatives’ “baby talks”, our two loveable pandas are also facing the same dilemma.
Fu Wa and his mate Feng Yi have yet to conceive despite arriving in Malaysia over a year ago. This is the pandaâ€™s second attempt at mating.
Malaysian Zoological Society Giant Panda Conservation Centre and veterinary services director Dr Mat Naim Ramli said captive-born male pandas like Fu Wa were known to â€œunderperformâ€ at the tender age of nine.
â€œProbably when he reaches his 14th year and with enough exposure to the female panda, he will get the hang of it,â€ he told reporters during a briefing on the giant panda breeding programme at Zoo Negara here on Saturday.
Despite Fu Waâ€™s inexperience, Dr Mat Naim said the male panda should have no problems to reproduce as he has quality semen and normal-sized genitals.
The female panda Feng Yi previously gave birth in China several years ago.
Dr Mat said Zoo Negara was also considering prolonging the time for the two pandas to socialise.
â€œThey can probably socialise in the observation area during visiting hours or we (may) shut the observatory for three to four days to allow them maximum time.
â€œPandas have no qualms doing it while in full view of the public and this has been done in China. But it would be tricky if we have schoolchildren that day.
â€œIf we close the observatory, then they can socialise for one whole day,â€ he added.
In Malaysia, Fu Wa is named â€œXing Xingâ€, which means prosperity, while Feng Yi is â€œLiang Liangâ€ or pretty.
Dr Mat Naim also said that at one point, the panda couple were slightly overweight, which was not conducive for mating.
Fu Wa had weighed 153kg, while Feng Yi was 118kg then.
â€œWe reduced 10kg from their 40kg bamboo diet. Fu Waâ€™s weight dropped to 127kg, while Feng Yi weighs around 105kg and that is ideal,â€ he said, adding that the pandas were not too happy at first when they had less to eat.
Dr Mat Naim said they were hopeful that the pandas would succeed at natural mating by next year.
The pandas are on a 10-year stay here to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.