WASHINGTON - Giving new meaning to the phrase, "invasion of privacy," the Smithsonian's National Zoo live-tweeted the process of artificially inseminating its female giant panda Monday.
Giant panda breeding season began this weekend when Mei Xiang went into estrus, or "in heat." She was artificially inseminated Sunday night by Dr. Li Desheng from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda and National Zoo scientists and veterinarians.
Officials determined Mei Xiang and male giant panda, Tian Tian, were not breeding naturally.
The National Zoo's panda team artificially inseminated Mei Xiang Monday afternoon. And the National Zoo's twitter feed @NationalZoo provided a play-by-play of the process. They used hashtag #pandaAI. The procedure began at 4 p.m. and ended around 5:30 p.m.
This is a big moment for us! If what happened in the last few minutes takes, we could have a panda cub here this summer! #pandaAI— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) April 30, 2012
Sunday night, Mei Ziang was inseminated with thawed semen collected from Tian Tian in 2005. Zoo staff will monitor Mei Xiang's hormone levels in the coming months and conduct ultrasounds to see if she is pregnant.
Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have successfully produced one cub, named Tai Shan, who was born July 9, 2005. He now lives in China.
WTOP's Meera Pal contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)