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Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:33 PM

San Diego Zoo to say farewell to giant pandas

From kicking back while munching on bamboo to watching their roly-poly bodies tumbling on the ground, giant pandas are an iconic attraction at the San Diego Zoo. But now visitors are lining up for a last look at the adorable black-and-white animals, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas.

Zookeepers Dallas Dumont and Kathy Hawk have cared for the pandas for years.

It was 1996 when Bai Yun arrived from China. At the time, pandas were endangered, so Chinese authorities asked the zoo to help save the species from extinction. But when the breeding program began, Bai Yun and her proposed mate didn't have a magic moment.

"Bai Yun was very much interested in him, but he had nothing to do with her," Hawk recounted with a laugh. "She flirted with him. She would sometimes roll in the dirt and rub her face in the dirt… thinking she looked very pretty. And she'd go trotting up to him and he'd just go, 'Whoa' … and he'd just run from her."

So Barbara Durrant, the zoo's director of reproductive sciences, employed artificial insemination. It was successful, and research to decipher the mysteries of panda mating habits began. However, the length of a pregnancy remains a guessing game.

"We've had pregnancies reported as short as 85 days and as long as 185 days," Durrant said. "The physiology is still a little bit mysterious."


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