London Zoo's two young Giant Pandas may be mated for the first time in the next few days.
SV Chia Chia (male) in foreground and Ching Ching in background, eating bamboo shots
SV Cameraman filming
SV ZOOM INTO Female, Ching Ching
CU Chia Chia PAN TO Ching Ching climbing on bars
SV ZOOM TO Ching Ching climbing and scratching (2 shots)
CU Chia Chia eating bamboo shoots
SV Keeper George Callard feeding Ching Ching (2 shots)
CU Mr. Callard answering reporter's question, with shots of pandas close together in separate cages (5 shots)
REPORTER: "Are you very optimistic about what's going to happen in a few days?"
CALLARD: "Well, I think it's always best to say 'when we get the baby' than 'if we get the baby'. But then again, we're optimistic -- but I think at this stage we should only be mildly excited. You know, we mustn't expect too much of them."
REPORTER: "You said this was the first really serious attempt for a mating. The last time wasn't? You didn't expect anything to really happen?"
CALLARD: "No, it was just putting them together and just trying our luck. That was all. We didn't really expect anything though."
REPORTER: "Now explain to us briefly what's going to happen, what's the plan for how you put them together...."
CALLARD: "Well once the female goes off her food, gets very sluggish, doesn't care whether she goes in or comes out, what is the time we must say: 'well, tomorrow morning, very early, we'll put them together and give them a try'."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: London Zoo's two young Giant Pandas may be mated for the first time in the next few days. Ching Ching and Chia Chia were presented to the United Kingdom by China in 1974 after a visit to Peking by Britain's former Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath. Now zoo-keepers believe he pair are old enough to mate and are watching carefully for the right signs.
SYNOPSIS: Normally, Chia Chia, the male, and Ching Ching, seen here in the background, are kept in separate cages, though they remain close neighbours. They are two of the zoo's most popular attractions, mostly because of their appealing looks and gymnastic abilities, but also because they are rare animals found only in parts of China and Tibet.
It is very difficult to breed pandas in captivity. London Zoo's previous panda, Chi-Chi, hit the headlines when she went to Russia for a match with Moscow's An-An. But that mating attempt failed. The zoo authorities hope their present pair will take an interest in more than just eating bamboo shoots.
Keeper George Callard believes the mating could take place anytime. But he stresses that both animals are still young and will not be pressured into parenthood. One thing is certain, Ching Ching's waistline will be a source of summer speculation.