National Zoo Live Tweets Giant Panda’s Artificial Insemination

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo spent Monday live tweeting their attempt at impregnating Mei, one of two giant pandas at the center. Veterinarians resorted to using a sperm sample from Tian Tian, the male panda at the zoo, when the two pandas failed to mate naturally. And rather than doing this procedure behind closed doors, they decided to share Mei’s procedure with the world.

This one’s on the border of forward-thinking educational content and a WTF moment. On the one hand, tweeting about these beautiful animals raises awareness of their plight and the things the Smithsonian is doing for animals and the sustainability of our global ecosystem. On the other hand, it’s pretty weird to be tweeting about the artificial insemination of a panda. Pretty weird indeed.

The National Zoo (@NationalZoo) began tweeting yesterday as soon as Mei went under, and continued right up until she woke up. In the process, they tweeted intimate details about how panda pregnancies work, how she reacted to the anesthesia, and other juicy tidbits.

Honestly, the feed is pretty informative. For instance, did you know that female giant pandas can only breed during a short 24-72 hour window each year? Or that a panda cub is so small inside the mother’s womb, that it could be as late as one week before birth that an ultrasound picks up an image?

Here are a few of our favorite tweets from Mei’s ordeal:

The Smithsonian National Zoo is all about education, and this live-tweeting proves it. It might not be the most glamorous of events, but giant pandas are so immensely rare that Mei’s pregnancy would be cause for celebration. And as the zoo discovered, Twitter is a great medium for getting the word out about endangered species and the good work that zoos perform, while educating the public on all things cute and fluffy.

(Image courtesy of the National Zoo)