Giant Panda

Berlin Zoo

After arrival of the wild-caught, ten-year-old female (SB 378) at the Berlin Zoo in 1995, noninvasive urinary hormone analysis was initiated to characterise ovarian activity. Unchanging patterns of excreted oestrogen and progesterone metabolites for the next two years, as well as a lack of any sexual behaviour, suggested that she was acyclic. A transrectal ultrasound examination in February 1997 indicated that the genital tract was normal but that the ovaries were inactive. Since then, she has undergone yearly ultrasound examinations for health assessments and to monitor ovarian activity after exogenous gonadotrophin treatment (equine chorionic gonadotrophin, eCG, with or without follicle stimulating hormone, FSH, priming) to induce oestrus and to stimulate ovulation (with human chorionic gonadotrophin, hCG) for AI (Table 17.1). In general, gonadotrophic treatments stimulated follicu-lar development based on ultrasound and urinary oestrogen analyses, although oestrous behaviour was never observed.

The genital tract schematic (Fig. 17.5) indicates regions where ultrasound images were generated. Figure 17.6 (Plate XXV) presents examples of ultrasonographic and endoscopic evaluations of the female reproductive tract. Figure 17.6a is an endoscopic image of the external os or portio cervicalis after oestrus induction with eCG and prior to AI. The cone-shaped portio extends into the vagina and is characterised by a typically pink mucosa around the time of oestrus. A concurrent ultrasonographic image of the portio identified mucus accumulation among the portial folds typically found during oestrus (see Fig. 17.6b). The cervix is slightly convoluted and measures about 4 cm in length (see Fig. 17.6c). A longitudinal view of the uterus generated by transrectal ultrasound using the TR-250 probe extension clearly revealed the two endometrial layers (see Fig. 17.6d). The small size of the uterus and the thin endometrium indicated an inactive status before the onset of this

Figure 17.4. Transabdominal ultrasound images of the kidneys from a young (28-month-old) female giant panda at the San Diego Zoo.

Table 17.1 Summary of artificial insemination (AI) trials conducted on the female giant panda SB 378 at Berlin Zoo

Year Oestrous induction/Natural oestrus Anaesthesia Outcome

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