Pandas are Apparently Picky Lovers, Just Like Humans

If you were to make a list of what attracts you to your significant other, it would likely include a wide array of physical traits (great smile, cute butt), as well as personality traits (compassionate, curious, courageous). Research is showing how this detailed method of mate selection isn’t reserved just for human animals. Other species, such as pandas, also carefully select suitors based on what they see both inside and out.

A recent study published in the journal Biological Conservation revealed that giant pandas search for quality matches based on personality traits that complement their own. The research is especially helpful for conservationists who are curious about methods to ensure that more panda pairings result in healthy offspring, for the sake of the species.

Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassified the giant panda as “vulnerable,” meaning that efforts to keep the species afloat appear to be working, but they aren’t out of the woods just yet. There are only about 2,000 giant pandas living in the wild today, and most are adults. Conservation efforts to learn more about their mating behaviors are hoped to help both in zoo settings and in the bears’ natural habitats.

San Diego Zoo Global has been home to a revolutionary giant panda breeding program since the arrival of female panda Bai Yun in 1996. She successfully delivered the first surviving panda cubs on U.S. soil around that time, sparking fierce dedication to further understanding the species’ behavior surrounding reproduction, pregnancy and panda parenting.

Biologists at the zoo participated in the recent study by assessing certain personality characteristics in the giant pandas at the facility. They rated each animal on aggressiveness, excitability, fearfulness, exploratory ability, and other scales. After seeing where each bear fell on the scales, they observed their preferences in potential mates. It turned out that certain traits were more compatible with each other than others. For example, more excitable male pandas had better reproductive success with less excitable females. Also, more aggressive males paired better and produced more offspring with less aggressive females, while the opposite combination showed far less reproductive success.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen scientists attempting to learn more about non-human animal mate selection since 2017 began. In January, a Dutch zoo discovered how a program called “Tinder for orangutans” could help females primates use technology – similar to the popular (human) dating app – to essentially swipe right and find the one. Time will tell how valuable these types of research can be regarding conservation and understanding animal courtship, yet the findings so far have shown we really aren’t all that different from our furry counterparts.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Melania P
Melania P8 months ago

I can assure you pandas are more picky than a lot, lot of people.....

Jerome S
Jerome S8 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven8 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Deborah W
Deborah W9 months ago

HEY, AGAIN -- wasn't finished. Second try ...

PANDAS MATE FOR LIFE SO PICKY IS GOOD. Unless captive breeding forces unnatural results. That humans follow suit is questionable ...

Deborah W
Deborah W9 months ago

PANDAS MATE FOR LIFE, so picky is good. Humans not so much.

Christian M
Christian Menges10 months ago

Nice People

Carl R
Carl R10 months ago


Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga10 months ago


Cat c
Cat c10 months ago


Patricia H
Patricia Harris10 months ago

This is what equality is all about!