Producing a panda cub can be a dirty job
WTOP's Kate Ryan
WASHINGTON - The region has rejoiced in the news of a new baby panda at the National Zoo, but making it happen was at times a very dirty job.
In order to know when the giant panda Mei Xiang was ready to mate, zoo staffers had to analyze hormone levels in fecal and urine samples.
"You'd be amazed what we can learn from poop," says Janine Brown, who has dealt with a lot of it working as head of the endocrinology lab at the Smithsonian Zoo's research facility in Front Royal, Va.
Fecal samples are easy to get, but zoo staffers can't hand Mei Xiang a cup and ask for a urine sample.
"Basically, the keepers just can see where she urinates and they just take a little syringe and suck it up off the ground and put it in a tube. It's sort of liquid gold to us," Brown says.
WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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