Tokyo: A Tokyo zoo is to shutter its panda display in an effort to encourage the famously lethargic creatures to concentrate on mating without the distraction of spectators, a spokeswoman said today.
Starting from tomorrow, Shin Shin and her companion Ri Ri will be given a bit of alone time at Ueno Zoo after she began exhibiting signs that she was ready to procreate.
"Shin Shin is moving around more often and bleating like a sheep, a sign that it is mating season," the spokeswoman said.
"The two have good chemistry and we all hope the couple will bear a healthy new baby," she said.
The couple captivated Japan in 2012 when Shin Shin gave birth to a cub, the first giant panda born at the zoo in 24 years.
However, the baby bear died from pneumonia a short time later, an event that provoked newsflashes on national television.
Despite the weight of public expectations, last year`s mating season was unsuccessful.
Pandas, whose natural habitat lies in mountainous southwestern China, have a low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss.