City Desk

Red Pandas Chilling in the Rain

On the Asia Trail, the only active animal in sight is the fishing cat, who is cruising around his exhibit.

This week, the red pandas, however, have been the main attraction at this part of the National Zoo. That's because the female, Shama, is ovulating, which only happens once a year. She and her frisky new male companion, Tate, a recent transfer from the Cape May Zoo in New Jersey, have been putting on quite a show. Their vigorous mating has been all the talk among zoo staffers and visitors. Although they're sleepy this a.m., on Monday morning Tate was chasing Shama around, mounting her every chance he could get. She would tolerate him for a moment and then push him off, leaving him to lay on his back and, it appeared, lick his penis. Then he'd go and mount her again. "It was kind of a cycle," according to Jule Banville, Average Day Animal Kingdom correspondent.

Problem is the show may be over; Shama may be out of heat. And also, the red pandas don't appear to like the rain. Both are curled up on opposite ends of a branch perched between trees. No romping is taking place at the moment. Banville will update.

UDATE 11 A.M.: Tate is grooming himself, apparently satisfied. Shama: nowhere to be found. Looks like an average day for red pandas.

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