The Big Story

Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the National Zoo Pandas

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They’re two of Washington’s most famous residents: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the giant pandas at the National Zoo. Loaned through an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, the pandas are one of the zoo’s star attractions, living in a specially constructed panda enclosure and watched by devotees on streaming Panda Cams.

Since the panda population is dwindling — the Smithsonian estimates that as few as 1,600 giant pandas survive in the mountains of China — efforts to breed Mei Xiang and Tian Tian generate heavy attention. Mei Xiang gave birth in September 2012 to a female cub that died six days later. Mei Xiang had five consecutive false pregnancies between 2007 and 2012. Mei Xiang most recently gave birth on Aug. 23, 2013.

Gallery: Photos of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian

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National Zoo on pregnancy watch for giant panda Mei Xiang

The Smithsonian National Zoo announced on March 29 that its veterinarians artificially inseminated giant panda Mei Xiang, who has given birth to six cubs in the past but is nearing the end of her reproductive life cycle.

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Once again, female giant panda shows signs that breeding time approaches

(Smithsonian National Zoo photo)

But Mei Xiang is said not yet ready to breed this year.

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