Randy pandas get privacy at Tokyo zoo

March 7, 2013
Male and female giant pandas, "Ri Ri" (top) and "Shin Shin", are shown at Tokyo's Ueno Zoological Park, March 25, 2012. The pandas are being given a bit of space, with Japanese zookeepers hoping they will mate if the public is kept away.

A pair of pandas in the mood for mating were being given a bit of space Thursday with Japanese zookeepers hoping they will mate on if the public was kept away.

Female panda Shin Shin has begun to display the tell-tale behaviour of being ready for action, say officials at Ueno Zoo in the Japanese capital, who add they want her and her beau Ri Ri to have enough privacy to do the deed.

"We have seen Shin Shin showing signs that she is in heat, so we have suspended and are getting ready to put her and Ri Ri together," said Mikako Kaneko.

"As female are able to conceive for just a few days during a year, we are now carefully watching them so that we won't let the chance slip away," she added.

Shin Shin's provocative panda behaviour has included walking more frequently than usual and making noises, the zoo said.

Shin Shin and Ri Ri had a cub last year—the first cub at the zoo in 24 years—but it died of about a week later, with the news stopping regular television programming and bringing the zoo director to tears.

(c) 2013 AFP