Giant Pandas don't much like to breed. This is bad news for the species and bad news for those of us who demand more panda cubs in our lives!
Fortunately, researcher Meghan Martin is taking on this prudish-panda-challenge. Her new project aims to determine whether providing pandas with a choice of mates, rather than just one, increases reproductive success.
Meghan is raising money on a new crowd-funding platform called Microryza, which allows individuals to directly follow and fund scientific research. How cool is that? She only has 18 days left and A LOT of fundraising to go. She won't meet her goal without our help.
So ZooBorns fans, here's your chance to directly contribute to the science that results in the babies you love and the conservation causes you care about. Learn more about Meghan's work and do your part on the project page - Increasing the reproductive success in captive Giant Pandas
To whet our baby panda appetite, she also shared these wonderful photos of cubs born at BiFengXia Panda Base, where her research will be conducted.
Meghan Martin provided the following background on the cubs in these photos:
The babies don't have names of yet. They were born in the BiFengXia Panda Base (right outside of Ya'an, China) in July-August making them about 8 months old. This is the base where all of the Wolong pandas were moved after the 2008 earthquake. We've actually collected our first year of research data on these babies, their moms, and their dads.
The babies don't have names yet - it's tradition in China to wait until they're older to name the cubs. Right now they just call them "xiao" (small) and then their mother's name. The pictured cubs are Hua Mei's cub, a San Diego born panda, Long Xin's, Shui Xiu, and Xi Mei cubs. All of these pandas except for Hua Mei had two cubs. Si Xue, Guo Guo, and Ye Ye all had cubs as well but they are not pictured.
I've spent the most time watching Hua Mei's cub - she's a climber and is the one pictured in the tire swing! Just yesterday she climbed to the top of a tree in one of the natural enclosures (picture attached). In the wild the mother will often leave the cubs up in the trees while she finds food (kinda of the opposite from deer). Long Xin's cub likes to curl up into a little ball on the platform and sleep all tucked in on himself.
At this age, they mainly love playing with each other, climbing, and getting into trouble. They're so inquisitive and investigate even the smallest bug in their enclosures. They all have this cute little instinct to roll up into a ball if you scratch the top of their tails and then you can roll them along the ground.
So make a direct impact on the future of a species and invest in new Giant Panda cubs with a small donation to Meghan's groundbreaking research here