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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Panda stars get privacy in bid for offspring

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the star residents of the National Zoo, are gaining a little more privacy this year as they approach their oh-so-brief mating season.

Unlike past years when visitors could be on hand when they mated, the zoo is closing the panda exhibit today for a few days.

Making panda babies is a tricky business with no room for error. Females are in heat for all of a day or two a year.

Three attempts to get Mei Xiang pregnant have failed. Taking tips from panda experts, the National Zoo plans to “create expectation between the two,” as Gibbons put it. They will be put together for short periods, then separated, a process to be repeated at different times.

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