May 28, 2009—When panda pornography didn't entice a male panda to mate with his female partner at a Thai zoo, staff next tried artificial insemination, which resulted in a surprise birth this week.
© 2009 National Geographic (AP)
Staff at Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo were unaware that Lin Hui, a 8-year-old female panda, was pregnant.
She's seen in this surveillance video holding the newborn in her mouth.
The cub, born Wednesday, appeared healthy.
Zoo staff artificially inseminated the giant panda in February but saw no signs that she was pregnant.
Even an ultrasound on May 11th showed no fetus.
Panda births are difficult to predict and reports of false pregnancies are common.
Zoo officials have been able to determine the cub is female, and they'll be limiting public exposure while the cub develops.
Captive panda births are rare outside of China, with Thailand becoming only the third country after the United States and Japan to accomplish it.
The effort for Thailand has been a long and sometimes comical odyssey that started 6 years ago.
They even tried showing Lin Hui's male partner videos of pandas mating.
When that didn't work, they started artificial insemination attempts.
Giant pandas are native to China. Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild, mostly in China's southwestern Sichuan province.
About another 120 are in Chinese breeding facilities and zoos, and about 20 live in zoos outside China.