National Zoo to announce panda gift, breeding plan

By the Associated Press | December 19, 2011 | 7:50 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Zoo is preparing to announce a major gift that will fund its giant panda program for five more years.

Zoo scientists on Monday also will announce their 2012 breeding plan for Washington's pandas with China's ambassador.

The zoo says male panda Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) has been showing the first signs of breeding behavior for the season. But officials have said they may seek to swap female Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) out for another female. They have said there is a high likelihood she won't succeed in having another cub.

In January, the Smithsonian signed a new five-year, $2.5 million agreement with China to keep the popular pandas in Washington. The agreement stipulated that one or both of the pandas could be traded for others if they can't breed.