Methods

Our research on giant panda social behaviour over the past seven years has compared cubs that remained with their mothers for 12 to 13 months with cubs that have been permanently removed from their mothers before six months of age. Studies include five mothers and 18 cubs (nine males, nine females). Ten cubs (six males, four females) remained with their mothers for 12 months, whereas the remaining eight youngsters were removed from their dams at four to five months of age and reared with peers. Nine subjects in this long-term study are currently 4.5 to 6.5 years of age and, thus, at or near reproductive maturity. Most study animals have been housed at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Chengdu Zoo (see Snyder et al., 2003, for details on housing and data collection).

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