Thai zoo officials trying to turn male panda onto porn ahead of mating season

Chuang Chuang the panda has been spending his days in front of a television watching panda porn.

Authorities at the Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand hope the images will encourage him to mate with his partner, Lin Hui, and serve as an instructional lesson in how to do it right.

So far, it's been a tough sell, the zoo's chief veterinarian, Kanika Limtrakul, said Tuesday.

"Chuang Chuang seems indifferent to the videos, he has no reaction to what he's seeing on TV," Kanika said. "But, we're continuing to show him videos and hoping they will leave an impression."

Everyday for the past week, Chuang Chuang has been taken from his outdoor environment of rocks and trees to an indoor cage set up in front of a big screen television. Animal experts then put on a DVD that shows pandas mating.

At first, they kept the sound off but noticed that the images alone were not grabbing Chuang Chuang's attention, so they turned the volume up, said Prasertsak Buntrakoonpoontawee, head of the zoo's panda project.

"Before he might have been clumsy and not known how to approach and react to a female panda. Now he will remember and imitate the video," Prasertsak said.

The exercise will continue for about another week. Then Chuang Chuang will be reunited with his partner. Zoo officials say the two pandas have been kept separate since late last year as part of efforts to spark some romance between them.

Chuang Chuang was recently put on a strict diet because zoo officials said he was too heavy to mate. The diet trimmed him down from 150 kilograms (331 pounds) to 142 kilograms (313 pounds).

Thailand rented 6-year-old Chuang Chuang and 5-year-old Lin Hui from China for US$250,000 (EUR188,000) in October 2003 for 10 years. They are expected to generate millions of dollars (euros) in revenue from Thai and foreign tourists.

There are as few as 1,600 giant pandas in the mountain forests of central China, according to the zoo. An additional 120 are in Chinese breeding facilities and zoos, and about 20 live in zoos outside China, reports AP.

Pandas are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching and a low reproduction rate. Females in the wild normally have a cub once every two to three years.

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