Giant pandas to be given Viagra

Wildlife officials hope it will increase the endangered species' population.

By J.A. Getzlaff
Published April 26, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Would you want to have sex while throngs of people watched from behind bars? If you were one of the 1,000 giant pandas left in the world, you might not have a choice.

According to a BBC report, giant pandas, which originally hail from China's woodland areas, are having a hard time breeding in captivity. The species is naturally slow to reproduce, largely because of the scant 30-second mating sessions most males stick to. But once they are placed in captivity, impregnation becomes nearly impossible -- and no one has figured out why.

Zhang Hemin, director of a panda center in China's central province of Sichuan, told the Wen Hui Daily that the captive animals simply may not know how to have sex anymore. In the mid-'90s, his center tried giving its male pandas Chinese medicine that would prompt amorous adventures. The medicine did improve their sex drives, Hemin said, but the animals also "became hot-tempered and attacked the females."

Now Chinese wildlife officials have decided to turn to Viagra, the erection-stimulating drug favored by geriatric playboy Hugh Hefner. If the pandas' notoriously weak stamina is strengthened by the drug, they just might have the staying power to get the job done right.

But Sally Nicholson, head of international policy at the World Wildlife Fund, reminded the BBC that the pandas can survive only if their habitat is protected. Even if captive breeding is successful, she said, "pandas cannot be reintroduced to a habitat which is not there."

J.A. Getzlaff

J.A. Getzlaff's Daily Planet appears every weekday. Do you have a tip or tale for J.A.? Send it to

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