CZAAWE Resource Article

Enhancing captive breeding in giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca): maintaining lactation when cubs are rejected, and understanding variation in milk collection and associated factors
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20232.abs From 1997 to 2002, a female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) was artificially stimulated and lactation was maintained, after her neonates were removed due to the female's inability to provide maternal care. Milk samples were collected and the amount of milk collected was quantified. The lactation curve of this animal was estimated based on the Gamma function: Yt=atbe−ct. The amount of milk collected showed significant, positive relationships with the number of days after parturition both in 1999 and in the whole study period from 1998 to 2002. This female's lactation curves fit the type I pattern of a typical mammalian lactation curve. Daily milk collection (g) during the first 30 days after parturition, and from 31 to 60 days after parturition, showed a consistent pattern with one peak at around 8:00 hr. More milk was collected during the latter period than during the former period. The amount of milk (g) collected on mucus excretion days was significantly less than that on days after mucus excretion had ended, yet no significant difference was found between milk collected one day before mucus days and on mucus days, or between milk collected one day before and one day after mucus days. Mucus excretion from the gastrointestinal tract significantly impacted the amount of milk collected. The results from this study may aid the captive propagation and conservation of giant pandas and other endangered and rare captive mammal species. Zoo Biol 28:331–342, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.