National Zoo Wants You to See This Panda Inseminated | NBC Southern California

National Zoo Wants You to See This Panda Inseminated

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    FILE PHOTO: Giant panda bear cub Bao Bao (L) and her mother Mei Xiang inside the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat at the Smithsonian National Zoo. in early 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    It's time for another round of "Is she or isn't she?"

    The National Zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang, has been artificially inseminated twice in the past two days, in hopes of bringing another beyond-adorable cub into the world.

    And the pandas, or perhaps their zookeepers, really, really want us to know about it.

    Since if it didn't happen on social media, it didn't really happen, the zoo livestreamed portions of the first insemination procedure on Twitter and live-posted to Instagram using the hashtag #pandastory. (At least one other attempt in recent years was live-tweeted.)

    A little background: Mei Xiang's cub Bao Bao will celebrate her second birthday this year. Scientists skipped out on conception attempts last year as Mei Xiang was still attentively mothering her wee one.

    Now, though, it's time to try again. Mei was inseminated Sunday evening and again around 7:30 a.m. Monday after daily hormone reports showed that her progesterone levels peaked Sunday morning, the National Zoo said. An earlier Instagram video also showed Mei Xiang bleating at male giant panda Tian Tian through a fence, another sign that she was almost ready. (Our advice to you: If you watch the video on headphones, make sure your volume is NOT turned all the way up.)

    Mei Xiang was put under general anesthesia for the insemination procedures, which took about an hour.

    Scientists used semen from two giant pandas: Tian Tian, the National Zoo's resident male panda, who is the father of Mei Xiang's previous cubs, and also from Hui Hui, a giant panda living at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, China.

    The zoo said Hui Hui was determined to be one of the best genetic matches for Mei Xiang.

    If a new cub is born, scientists will use a DNA test to determine which male panda is the father.

    Scientists also used semen from two different pandas back when Mei Xiang became pregnant with Bao Bao and her stillborn twin in 2013. After their delivery, tests determined that Tian Tian was the father of both cubs.

    Mei Xiang also gave birth to a female cub in 2012, but the cub died after a week.

    Mei's only other surviving cub, Tai Shan, was born at the National Zoo in 2005. But they grow up so fast these days, and he was sent to live in China in early 2010.

    Panda pregnancies, on average, take three to six months, and pandas really know how to keep the suspense going -- there's often no way to tell a little one is on the way until they're born.