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Panda Love Songs

January 11, 2010

Vocalizations by female giant pandas change to indicate when they are fertile.


Panda love songs…I’m Bob Hirshon, and this is Science Update.

Sfx: Panda chirp

That’s the seductive call of a female panda bear. Zoologist Ben Charlton of Zoo Atlanta recorded 14 female pandas during their one brief window of fertility during the year. They compared these to vocalizations produced during the six days preceding the fertile period.

BEN CHARLTON (Zoo Atlanta):
Chirps produced by fertile females were longer in duration and also characterized by higher jitter and were also harsher sounding, now jitter is just small microfluctuations in the pitch of the chirp. So this shows quite clearly that female chirps can actually signal the precise fertile phase of the female giant pandas.

Charlton and his colleagues also found that male pandas were more attracted to recordings made of fertile females than pre-fertile ones. This could help the endangered bear breed more successfully in captivity. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.