Female pandas travel far to seek mates: Study

Washington: Unlike other animals, female pandas approaching adulthood wander long distance looking for mating opportunities, a new study has found.

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Researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) in the US tracked five pandas with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars. They found that females seem to rival the males in distances moved from home during mating season, a behaviour overlooked in previous small studies that seemed to indicate the females waited around for male callers.

They also found evidence that the 'subadult' females - adolescents - tend to disperse further than males, though they may return near their original home range to give birth and raise their cubs.

"The tendency for female natal dispersal is an interesting behavioural adaptation that is uncommon in mammals, and not found in any other bear species," said Thomas Connor from MSU.

The pandas in the studies live in two mountain ranges - the Qionglai range and the Qinling Mountains in China. "It is fascinating that in a species as well known as the giant panda, there are still so many uncertainties and unanswered questions," said Connor.

The findings were published in the journal Integrative Zoology.

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