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National Zoo performs insemination on giant panda

Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 11:22 a.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 11:23 a.m. CST

WASHINGTON – A Chinese veterinarian has performed an artificial insemination on the National Zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang.

Animal keepers detected a rise in panda hormone levels and breeding behaviors this week. A team of scientists performed the artificial insemination Saturday morning after animal keepers determined there was no natural breeding overnight between Mei Xiang and male panda Tian Tian.

Veterinarian Tang Chunxiang traveled from China's Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda to assist. The zoo says a second procedure will likely be performed later Saturday.

Mei Xiang delivered a cub last year, but the tiny female died six days later. Her only surviving offspring, Tai Shan (tie-SHON), was born in 2005.

The panda house has been closed since Tuesday but is set to reopen Sunday.

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