Pandas are cuddly, but not to each other. They muster about as much enthusiasm for sex as a human does for a root canal.
In part because of those lousy libidos, the world's giant panda population is disturbingly small. A sign at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan Province says that "saving the giant panda from extinction is of the utmost urgency" — but the urgency isn't felt by the pandas.
Panda biology is part of the problem. Females enter estrus only once a year, for a very short time in the spring. They are receptive and fertile for just 24 to 72 hours. A male panda needs to make his move then, or wait for another whole year. "There is perhaps no mammal that is less often in the mood for sex than the female giant panda," Scientific American said in a 2012 article.
Pandas are also picky: They only want to get down when they have really hit it off with a partner, and that rarely happens.
Captivity is a real mood-killer, too. According to the director of one research center in Sichuan, less than 5 percent of male pandas in captivity can naturally mate. Other researchers say captive female pandas are often unable to enter estrus normally.
In response, Chinese scientists have tried to alter the captive pandas' habitats to better simulate life — and libido — in the wild.
And then there's the innocence problem. Panda sex happens so infrequently that the act is almost never witnessed by other pandas, leaving them with very little notion of how to go about it, researchers say. In hopes of cluing them in, scientists have taken to showing them "panda porn."
Source: New York Times