A giant panda named Jin Zhu was found to have both male and female reproductive organs. This is the first giant panda with intersex reproductive organs found in the history. Jin Zhu might have been live a miserable life, because he/she could not determine the gender or breed offspring like other pandas.
Fortunately, humans helped Jin Zhu to live a happy life. Out of respect for Jin Zhu, the research team of giant panda helped her to be a female giant panda successfully by applying the method called gender guidance instead of surgery. Jin Zhu became a mother after being treated. For the whole country, it was a miracle among the animal world.
In June 2002, Li Desheng, the director of the China Conservation and Research Center of Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan received a call from Kobe, Japan: "It's unbelievable! The giant panda Jin Zhu brought on loan from China, who’s found to have both male and female reproductive organs. We hope some expert in China come to help us to tell Jin Zhu’s gender!” Mr. Li flew to Kobe Oji Zoo after the call.
In July 2000, as ambassadors of peace and friendship, the 4-year-old male giant panda Jin Zhu and the 5-year-old female giant panda Shuang Shuang moved to Japan and started a 10-year loan life. Jin Zhu and Shuang Shuang were very popular in Japan, and they became the super stars in Kobe.
Jin Zhu were turning 6 years old after living at Kobe for 2 years, and it’s time for them to make the panda babies. However, Jin Zhu showed no affection for the female panda Shuang Shuang. Experts at Kobe Zoo were worried about the pandas, then they performed a physical examination on Jin Zhu. What surprised everyone about the report was that Jin Zhu, who had been regarded as a male, had both male and female genitalia!
Li Desheng checked Jin Zhu carefully, and was surprised too. He admitted that Jin Zhu did have both male and female genitalia, and Jin Zhu was the first intersex giant panda in the world.
After discussion between China and Japan, it was decided to bring Jin Zhu back to Sichuan, China. Both parties agreed that it’s the best choice to take Jin Zhu home, according to the panda’s condition.
The China Conservation and Research Center of Giant Panda took a great care of Jin Zhu by arranging the experienced keepers at hometown.
Mr. Li and his colleges checked Jin Zhu carefully again, which showed that Jin Zhu has both male XY chromosomes and female XX chromosomes. Now, Mr. Li was worried about Jin Zhu’ future life: The panda would never be a real male or female.
Something bad happened to Jin Zhu. Jin Zhu’s behavior seems to be very masculine. some female pandas treated Jin Zhu as the Mr. Right, when they were together. The female pandas kept showing their affections for Jin Zhu, while Jin Zhu had no respond to them. The females walked away in frustration.
However, some males thought Jin Zhu was a girl. One day, a very strong male followed Jin Zhu all the way, and he wanted to mate with Jin Zhu. Jin Zhu refused the male and pushed him away. While the male was offered by Jin Zhu, and he beaten Jin Zhu too hard. Luckily, another male panda named Lu Lu saved Jin Zhu from the danger. Then Jin Zhu stood up from the ground when the male went away.
The pandas had no ideas about Jin Zhu’s gender.
It seemed that Jin Zhu realized that there was something different from others. Jin Zhu looked unhappy and lost some wight. Mr. Li was really sad about Jin Zhu, and he was trying to fix it.
Li Desheng and his colleagues believed that if Jin Zhu was artificially performed sex reassignment surgery, it might go against the panda’s will. Moreover, even if a sexual organ could be removed by surgery, it might not help Jin Zhu choose the gender correctly, for Jin Zhu already had his/her own thoughts, and the experts cannot determine the panda’s gender with the surgical only. The best way was to guide Jin Zhu to determine his gender psychologically, which would cause the increase or decrease of sex hormones in the body, and finally confirm the gender physically. However, this approach was likely to end in failure.
Ya'an Bifengxia Panda Base is a subordinate base of the China Conservation and Research Center of Giant Panda, where several pandas needed to be transferred from the center for the exhibition. Experts agreed that it would be helpful for Jin Zhu to start a new life with a different place. And the male giant panda Lu Lu, who had left a good impression on Jin Zhu, was sent to help Jin Zhu with the treatment in Ya’an.
On December 22, 2003, six giant pandas including Jin Zhu and Lu Lu arrived in Bifengxia. Jin Zhu enjoyed this new home in Bifengxia, and then he/she became cheerful. Jin Zhu had a crush on Lu Lu and always wanted to play with him. Lu Lu was very irritable, but he was very gentle when he spent time with Jin Zhu.
Li Desheng found that Jin Zhu's temperament slowly changed. Jin Zhu became gentle and always accompanied Lu Lu inseparably, and Lu Lu took great care of Jin Zhu. The researchers said that Lu Lu is too macho. Li Desheng was very excited. He knew that it is the way the pandas show love to each other. Mr. Li guessed that Jin Zhu might have accepted that she was a female panda.
Jin Zhu moved back to Wolong. Mr. Li checked Jin Zhu and found that the panda had 93% of XX chromosomes and only 7% of XY chromosomes. The male reproductive organs were fading.
“What a miracle for Jin Zhu! It’s unbelievable! ” Everybody of the center was excited to hear about this.
The experts made a breeding plan for Jin Zhu: The first step was to sexually induce Jin Zhu with male panda urine. The second was to show Jin Zhu the “panda porn”. At the beginning, Jin Zhu showed no interest to the videos, and didn't even look at it. Later, Jin Zhu was getting curious about them, and the panda could’t take the eyes away from the videos. The last one was to let Jin Zhu mate with the male panda. Obviously, Jin Zhu was willing to mate with others.
In March 2005, it was the estrus season for giant pandas. The experts decided to let Lu Lu mate with Jin Zhu naturally, which was a historically significant moment.
Mr. Li checked Jin Zhu again, and he found that Jin Zhu has no male chromosomes anymore. Jin Zhu’s female system was basically complete, and the male system has disappeared. It could be assumed that Jin Zhu has completed the conversion to female.
On April 6, 2005, Jin Zhu and Lu Lu were dating in a house. The two pandas were both excited when they met again. Lu Lu is such a master of love, and he flirted with Jin Zhu, then Jin Zhu gave some feedback to him. Suddenly, Lu Lu held Jin Zhu from her back tightly, which means he wanted to make out with Jin Zhu. It seemed that Jin Zhu was happy to mate with Lu Lu, while she seemed to forget the videos, and had no idea about it. These two pandas held each other and rolled on the ground.
Mr. Li and his colleges were afraid that the pandas would be fail to mate, and the researchers were cheered them up to try again. Jin Zhu and Lu Lu both stood up when they heard the noise. Fortunately, they mated naturally. All the staff were excited to clap hands.
Next day, researchers wanted Lu Lu and Jin Zhu to mate again, which they worried that the two pandas were failed to mate for the first time. However, Lu Lu was not in the mood, and he refused to mate with Jin Zhu. What’s worse was that Lu Lu beaten Jin Zhu. Jin Zhu spent a week to recover. After all of this, Lu Lu seemed feel very sad for Jin Zhu, and he showed affections to Jin Zhu again.
What surprised everybody was that Jin Zhu got pregnant, which means Jin Zhu was officially a female giant panda. Jin Zhu gave a birth to a cute baby at the end of this year. For all of us, this is such a miracle of the world.
Li Desheng said, Jin Zhu was not completely differentiated during the embryonic period, and the sex split was atypical, which led to gender disorder. The only way to solve the problem was Jin Zhu’s control on her genes. What we could do was to guide her to make a choice by herself. The guide treatment of gender transfer was a milestone for the history of panda conservation.
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