US zoo announces $4.5m panda gift

2011-12-20 07:36

Washington - The National Zoo has announced a $4.5m gift to fund its giant panda reproduction programme for five more years.

The zoo announced the donation on Monday from philanthropist David M Rubenstein, a co-founder and managing director of the private equity firm Carlyle Group.

Rubenstein is also on the board of regents at the Smithsonian, which operates the zoo.

The zoo says male panda Tian Tian has been showing signs of breeding behaviour. But the zoo is also securing frozen semen from a now deceased panda at the San Diego zoo to use as a backup in 2012.

Officials have said they may seek to swap one or both of the Washington pandas out with new pandas from China if they are not successful in having another cub.