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Zoo staff artificially inseminate panda

MEMPHIS, TENN. - After its giant panda pair failed to mate this weekend, staff at the Memphis Zoo artificially inseminated Ya Ya, the female panda, on Sunday morning.

The panda exhibit has been closed since Thursday to give Ya Ya and Le Le some privacy to try to mate.

The two did attempt to mate, but they were unsuccessful, according to a news release.

Zoo officials chalked that up to inexperience.

"As they become more mature, I think they will be natural breeders," zoo president Chuck Brady said in the release.

A female panda has only three days a year to conceive, according to Matt Thompson, the curator of the zoo's mammal wing and overseer of the panda exhibit.

"Once you've missed the window, it's wait until next time," he said.

Zoo staff will attempt a second artificial insemination procedure today. The exhibit will remain closed until Tuesday.

If Ya Ya becomes pregnant, the zoo can expect a baby panda around May.

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