A survey of recent developments in a topic of general interest

In January, Hsing-Hsing, one of three giant pandas in the United States, became the first to be operated on for removal of a cancerous right testicle.

In April, Dudu, the world's oldest captive giant panda, celebrated her 35th birthday with a special dinner of milk and a cake adorned with candles.

In April, zoo keepers in Peking puzzled over the question of who was the father of Le Le's baby panda. Le Le had mated with two males and also been artificially inseminated before she became pregnant. Knowing the identity of the true father is important to avoid inbreeding in future.

In June, panda fertility experts in China announced that hormone supplements "could cause sexual excitement among female pandas that normally looked on males with little more than contempt".

Last week, Chinese scientists admitted that they were still puzzled by many aspects of panda reproductive physiology and indicated that they were looking at methods of cloning pandas.